P1B lost in overpriced PPE purchase

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    OPPOSITION Sen. Risa Hontiveros yesterday claimed the government lost around P1 billion from the overpriced personal protective equipment (PPE) gears purchased by the Department of Budget and Management-Procurement Service from April to May this year for distribution to government health workers fighting the rapid spread of the new coronavirus.

    Hontiveros said her office had analyzed the DBM procurement website as part of its review of how much the government has actually spent in the fight against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

    Hontiveros said the P1 billion purchase were from the five million pieces of PPE sets, most of which were bought from China at an overprice cost of at least P200 per unit.

    “Out of the 11 contracts of the PPE sets, seven were with China-based companies. Why did they prefer foreign contractors over Filipino companies? 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,” Hontiveros said.

    She said the Philippine General Hospital estimates that PPE sets costs P1,200 to P1,500, while PPE sets procured by the DBM ranged from P1,700 to P2,000.

    “Isang bilyon ang nawala sa kaban ng bayan (One billion pesos was lost in our coffers).

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

    Hontiveros chided the DBM for prioritizing China-based companies for the purchase. She said that three million of the five million PPE acquired were outsourced from Chinese companies, namely 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.

    She said that from the DBM’s list, the cheapest PPE sets, priced at P1,700 per set, were from Hafid N’ Erasmus Corporation, a Philippine-based company, and yet only 30,000 units were acquired from them.