Ex-DBM leader set to face Senate probe, insists govt didn’t buy ‘cheaper’ masks and shields – Manila Bulletin
A former budget official is set to face a Senate investigation following questions raised about the government’s purchase of certain medical supplies when the pandemic hit last year.
Former budget undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao said he was ready to shed light on the problems by clearing up any irregularities in the purchase of masks and face shields.
Senators have previously questioned allegedly overpriced masks and face shields purchased by the Department of Health (DOH) through the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) Procurement Service last year . The health department reportedly transferred 42 billion pesos for the purchase of personal protective equipment, including face masks which cost 27 pesos each and face shields at 122 pesos a piece in early 2020.
Lao was the former head of the procurement branch of DBM.
“It is my responsibility and I am prepared to attend to shed light on the matter. I believe in the objectivity of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee headed by Senator (Richard) Gordon that it is fair and just and c It’s a fitting and appropriate way for me to shed light on what really happened,” Lao said on government television on Friday Aug. 20.
“So it’s actually a good thing that people in ‘di ba kasi make assumptions without knowing all the facts. It is best if all the facts are established and the best, one of the appropriate channels is the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee,” he added.
Lao said some vendors tried to sell masks and face shields at a high price, but the PS-DBM still chose the “cheapest” among the items offered last year.
“Of course, if you consider that P27 during this time, this time it’s so expensive, even I wouldn’t buy this ‘di ba. The face mask during this period is P120 which would be really very expensive. But meanwhile, when kasagsagan ng pandemya (peak of the pandemic), everyone was scampering around. We were all frolicking,” he said.
“Actually when you look at it, kapag sinabi mong mahal iyong P27, yes mahal iyan (if you say P27 is expensive, yes it is) but at that time it was one of the cheapest because the face mask at that time cost around P30 to P40,” he said.
Lao also justified buying a face shield for P120 each, saying it was also the cheapest found last year.
“A face shield at that time, it was the first time people knew about the face shield. It was the first time I knew about the face shield,” he said. “So when you bid, most bidders bid around P400 and P300, but there’s one company that bids it at P120, so it’s actually the cheapest during that time,” he said. -he declares.
Lao also clarified that a memorandum of understanding for the transfer of funds from DOH to DBM’s procurement department was no longer required since the items were marked as common use or necessary for agency operations.
He noted that the health department needed help, so he asked the PS-DBM to procure these items.
“Most agencies don’t have a regular procurement process. They don’t really get items as part of their regular performance or function. Like the DOH, their primary function is to provide health care and services,” he said.
“But as part of providing these services, they have to provide supplies. And to get these items requires specialization, manpower, time, effort. So, in order not to dilute the manpower, resources, and time of these agencies, a different agency focuses on and performs a function for them. So I’m on PS-DBM,” he added.
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