Pangilinan doubts gov't can justify 'overpriced' COVID-19 supplies buy

By Vanne Terrazola

Senator Francis Pangilinan doubts that the Duterte administration will be able to properly justify its procurement of "overpriced" testing supplies and equipment for COVID-19.

Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan (Photo from Kiko Pangilinan website / / MANILA BULLETIN) Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan (Photo from Kiko Pangilinan website / / MANILA BULLETIN)

Pangilinan, in a social media post on Saturday (May 30), took a swipe at President Duterte who earlier assured the release of a report on the purchase of supplies and equipment for the Department of Health (DOH) to quell allegations of misuse of public funds.

"Maipapaliwanag daw 'yong overpriced na testing machines at testing kits (They can explain the overpriced testing machines and kits)? Eh 'yong P1.6 billion at P1.8 billion na tone-toledang shabu na pinalusot sa BOC, hanggang ngayon nga eh wala pang paliwanag, ‘yong overpriced na testing kits at testing machines pa kaya (Well, if there's still no explanation of the P1.6 billion and P1.8 billion worth of tons of crystal meth that the Bureau of Customs let slip, what more those overpriced testing kits and machine)?" the opposition senatorposted on Twitter and Facebook.

"Namumuro na kayo, ‘di kaya? (Aren't you pushing it?)" he also wrote.

In a speech last Thursday (May 28), Duterte maintained that DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III had nothing to do with the purchase of medical supplies and equipment and that it was him who ordered their immediate acquisition regardless of their cost.

"They unfairly dragged the name of Secretary Duque --- hindi ho totoo ‘yon (that's not true). Ang nagbili noon ang Budget, pati ‘yong Office of the President mismo (The Budget department and the Office of the President actually bought those)," he said.

The President directly addressed senators Franklin Drilon and Panfilo Lacson, who revealed the supposed overpricing in the DOH and the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. for the testing efforts.

"May I inform Senator 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 na dito na sa Budget para pag-release ng pera madali, diretso na (I ordered that the funds be released by the Budget department so the procurement will be easier, faster)," he said.

"You will have the explanation and better believe it, because ‘yon ang totoo (that is the truth). Hindi naman kami nambobola (We are not fooling you)," he added.

Duterte also reiterated his order, "Do not f*** with" the Congress-appropriated funds for COVID-19 response.