By Genalyn Kabiling
The government will release an official report about the procurement of medical equipment and supplies for the coronavirus response to dispel any doubts about any misuse of public funds, President Duterte said Thursday night (May 28).
The President assured the nation that he would “not f*ck” with public funds as he fended off speculations about the alleged irregular equipment purchases.
Duterte earlier admitted that he authorized the purchase of medical supplies regardless of the cost during the early days of the coronavirus outbreak. He said he would take full responsibility for the issue.
“Hindi kami nambobola. Sinabi ko, do not f**k with the people’s money. With more reason that we will not f**k with the money,” Duterte said in his televised public address about the recent medical procurement.
“May I inform Senator(s) (Franklin) Drilon and Ping Lacson and everybody, ganun ang nangyari (that’s what happened). We will have a report coming your way and that is the stand of the Office of the President. Kami ho ang nag utos niyan (We ordered the supply purchase),” he added.
Drilon and Lacson earlier expressed their concern about the allegedly overpriced medical equipment and supplies purchased by the government. The same supplies were reportedly bought by the private sector at a lower price.
The President also defended Health Secretary Francisco Duque III from criticisms linking him to the alleged anomalous transactions. Duterte explained that it was he who actually ordered the supply purchase since the health department was already “overworked” at the time.
He also explained that the local supplier who supposedly offered a lower price for the medical equipment did not actually participate in the bidding process. The supplier even offered to sell the product at a higher cost to the government, he added.
“Huwag ho kayo maniwala, ako na ‘yung nagsasabi sa inyo. ‘Yung mga test-test, ‘yung sabi nila they unfairly drag the name of Secretary Duque, hindi ho totoo ‘yun. Ang nagbili nu’n ang Budget pati ‘yung Office of the President mismo (Do not believe, I’m the one telling you, what they’re saying about the testing equipment, they unfairly dragged the name of Secretary Duque, that’s not true. those were bought by the Budget department and the Office of the President),” he said.
Duterte said he hopes the senators believe the government’s official report on the equipment purchase because it is the truth. “You will have the explanation and better believe it because ‘yun ang totoo (That’s the truth),” he said.
Duterte also cautioned the public against falling for baseless allegations about the government’s purchase of the equipment. “We have some talagang (really)bullsh*t na tao at kayo maniniwala agad (people and you believe right away), you better wait for the official report at least for respeto (respect), a little respect, coming from the Office of the President,” he said.
Early this week, the President asked the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to carefully study allegations that a local supplier was selling overpriced medical equipment in the country.
Scrap ‘lowest-bid rule
The President made another pitch for the removal of the lowest-bid rule in government procurement products and services. He said such practice remains the “culprit of all corruption” in government.
He said some bidders go around the bidding process “just to make money.” “They are using mga cornering of contracts and go into a bidding,” he said.
The President previously voiced his preference to do away with the awarding of contracts to the lowest bidder since it has been a source of corruption for years.