MANILA, Philippines — The Duterte Administration is now buying COVID-19 supplies straight from the manufacturing, the Palace said on Thursday (May 21).
According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, the Head of Department of Budget and Management’s Procurement Services (PS DBM) confirmed the allegations of the former Health Secretary and now Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin.
“Kinausap ko po si Usec (Lloyd Christopher) Lao ng PS DBM dahil sila nga po ang bumibili. Ang sabi niya totoo naman na noong una mataas ang bili ng DOH, pero ngayon napababa na dahil dumidiretso sila sa manufacturer. So meron pong katotohanan sa sinabi ni Sec. Garin. Sinabi ng PS DBM na ginagawa na nila iyan, dahilan kaya napababa ang binibili ng PS DBM,” he said in his regular media briefing.
Garin on Tuesday, May 19, stressed that the government can cut the cost of testing if it buys test kits and machines directly from manufacturers, suggesting they shouldn’t go through a middleman.
The cost of polymerase chain reaction or PCR testing in the country can go down to less than P1,000 if the DOH purchases the test kits straight from the manufacturer, she said.
Roque said he is clueless about the identity of the local supplier allegedly jacking up prices of COVID-19 tests. Garin said the supplier, headed by a couple, is padding them three times the cost of what manufacturers sell them for.
“Pandemic ngayon, at siguro napapanahong DOH mismo ang bumili ng kits na kailangan ng ating mga kababayan o kaya DBM o anong ahensya ng gobyerno, pero hindi po sa mga middleman kundi diretso sa mga manufacturer,” Garin said in her privilege speech.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, was questioned during a Senate hearing on Tuesday on the supposedly overpriced COVID-19 test package of state health insurer PhilHealth and testing machines bought by the DOH.
He promised lawmakers that he will ask for a review and submit a report to Congress on the matter.