Private firms defend DBM, deny ‘overpriced’ medical supplies

Published September 18, 2020, 7:16 PM

by Chino S. Leyco

Four suppliers came to the defense of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), attesting that the government’s purchase of medical supplies needed for its COVID-19 response was aboveboard.

In four separate letters, XuZhou Construction Machinery Group Imp. and Exp. Co., Ltd.; Integrated Energy Systems and Resources, Inc.; Lifeline Diagnostics Supplies, Inc.; and Hafid N’ Erasmus Corp. (HNE) have shed light to overpricing allegations.

They issued the letters after the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) denied the government lost P1 billion from the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) from a number of foreign suppliers.

The PS-DBM had said the government did not lose a single centavo from the acquisition of PPE sets, but instead saved some P800 million after they decided to directly buy from foreign manufacturers and accredited distributors.

Hongzhi Han of XuZhou Construction Machinery Group, said the allegations against the company were “baseless and irresponsible,” saying they were of “good quality” and sold to the US, Canada, Australia, Germany, Brazil, Indonesia, South Korea, among others.

“We, XuZhou Construction Machinery Group, are a China state owned company, and we protect and value our names and business with other countries, Philippines included,” the company said in an official statement signed by Hongzhi.

Separately, Susan V. Tecson, Integrated Energy Systems and Resources managing director, said they delivered “low-cost” but “high quality” medical supplies that passed the standards of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) and Department of Health (DOH).

Tecson explained that being an authorized distributor and direct importer of GenFollower Biotech Co.’s filter tips, and HBH Biotechnology Ltd.’s transport medium, the Pasay-based firm was able to offer PS-DBM medical supplies that at a much lower cost.

She added that Integrated Energy Systems and Resources also enjoys a preferential tariff for imports from China due to the ASEAN-China Free Trade agreement that lowered their prices.

Rex A. Tiri, Lifeline Diagnostics president and chairman, also denied his company’s involvement in the alleged overpriced macherey-nagel nucleospin extraction kits, noting that they followed all government procurement processes.

Tiri disclosed that Lifeline Diagnostics was invited by PS-DBM to submit price offer to the government’s purchase of COVID-19 testing kits, which they initially declined.

In a separate statement, HNE, a local manufacturer of PPE, said they offered PS-DBM medical grade suits at “far more price-competitive” than other suppliers between March and June, or at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The high price of the PPEs during the periods of March to June 2020 was due to the high demand in the market which are obviously experienced worldwide,” HNE said.

But to address the unexpected demand, HNE said it invested in manufacturing plants in Parañaque City and Carmona, Laguna to produce locally make cover-all, washable face masks, apron and other non-woven medical products.