Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Thursday flagged the purchase of more than P1 billion worth of face masks amid the growing deficiencies in the government’s budget.
In a statement, the senator said the Department of Budget and Management Procurement Service procured around 113,905,000 pieces of face masks from different suppliers.
Drilon said each mask costs around P27.72 but the Department of Health’s suggested retail price is only at P5.
Citing the Commission on Audit (COA) report, Drilon said the DBM office purchased around P1.66 billion worth of face masks.
This is higher compared to the P5 suggested retail price for face masks, which means 113 million face masks should have cost around P569.52 million.
Drilon further defended his argument, saying that even Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of Philippine Red Cross, was able to buy around P5 worth of face masks.
On top of this, DBM-PS also purchased 1,317,711 pieces of face shields for P120 each. In total, the government office spent P158.13 million for face shields.
But DOH’s suggested retail price for face shields is between P26 to P50 which means the total price should only be around P65.89 million.
In a Senate hearing, Drilon and Senator Imee Marcos grilled DOH and DBM officials over purchasing expensive face masks and face shields.
Marcos questioned why DOH transferred the procurement to DBM-PS even though the health department’s officials are capable of holding several procurement biddings.
During the Senate inquiry, DBM officer-in-charge Tina Rose Canda said it was resigned Budget Undersecretary Christopher Lloyd Lao who was in charge of the procurement of the COVID-19 supplies.
For Drilon, Lao’s resignation and sudden resignation of Budget Chief Wendell Avisado “gives rise to speculations.”
“The public speculates, whether you like it or not, especially with the COA report and given the past incidence where the procurement service was exposed to have been accountable for the overpricing of the face masks and face shields,” he said. — BAP, GMA News