‘P1B was lost:’ Hontiveros flags gov’t purchase of ‘overpriced’ PPE sets
By Christia Marie Ramos
INQUIRER.net
2020-09-16 09:12:35

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday flagged the government’s purchase of five million personal protective equipment (PPE) sets, mostly from Chinese firms, which she said were allegedly overpriced by P1 billion.

In a statement, Hontiveros said seven of the 11 contracts for PPE sets were awarded to China-based companies by the Department of Budget and Management-Procurement Service (PS-DBM) from April to May this year.

“Bakit inuna ang mga dayuhang kontraktor bago ang mga Pilipinong kumpanya? (Why are we prioritizing foreign companies instead of local ones?) To make matters worse, in these 11 procurements we analyzed, it appears that the PPE prices were overpriced by at least P200 per unit or P1 billion in total,” the senator said.

She said that the Philippine General Hospital had estimated that PPE sets range from P1,200-P1,500. The price of the PPE sets procured by the PS-DBM range from P1,700-P2,000, she pointed out.

“Isang bilyon ang nawala sa kaban ng bayan. (P1 billion was lost) This is one billion pesos that could have gone to more PPEs, especially during a time when an increasing number of our health workers were dying because of inadequate protection,” Hontiveros said.

“Crucially, the one billion pesos could have also been allocated to increase the salaries of our health workers,” she added.

She also questioned why China-based companies were supposedly prioritized in the procurement of PPE sets.

She said that of the five million PPE sets, almost three million were outsourced from Chinese companies, including Xuzhou Const. Machinery Group, Wen Hua Dev’t Industrial Co., Ltd., Chushen Company Ltd., Pacific Field (Hong Kong) Ltd., and Shanghai Puheng Medical Equipment Co. Ltd.

“Sa panahon na naghihingalo ang mga negosyanteng Pilipino, ang laking insulto naman na ang mga foreign companies pa ang nabigyan ng trabaho kesa sa kanila,” she said.

(In a time when local companies are struggling, this is a big insult to them that foreign companies are being awarded supply contracts by the government.)

“Alam din natin na mas matindi ang quality assurance and control ng mga Philippine-made products, kaya nakakapagtataka kung bakit foreign-made ang inuna,” Hontiveros added.

(We also know that we can be assured of the quality of Philippine-made products, that’s why it’s puzzling that foreign firms are being prioritized.)

Priced at 1,700 each, the cheapest PPE sets the DBM had procured from April to May were sourced from Philippine-based firm Hafid N’ Erasmus Corporation, according to the senator.

But she lamented that only 30,000 units were acquired from the said company while more PPE sets from foreign firms were bought.

She said one million sets for P1,898 per unit and an additional 250,000 sets for P2,000 each were procured from Xuzhou; 588,000 sets for P1979.56 per unit from Chushen; 200,000 sets for PP1923 per unit from Shanghai Puheng; some 42,000 sets for P1980.50 per unit and an additional 800,000 sets for P1923 per unit were bought from Wen Hua; and 28,000 sets for P1,900 per unit from Pacific Field.

“DBM should explain these suspicious transactions. The Department of Health should also have exercised its mandate to inspect these procurements, especially since this is a vital aspect of our overall COVID-19 response,” Hontiveros said.

“Our government agencies should only answer one simple question: Bakit binigyan ng prayoridad ang Tsina bago ang Pilipinas? (Why is China being given priority) If they have a good answer to that, and I doubt they do, only then can they be absolved of this,” she added.

/MUF

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