Duterte vows to answer 'accusations' vs govt's pandemic response

Published September 2, 2021, 10:21 PM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

President Duterte said that his government will answer the accusations on how they handled the coronavirus (COVID-19) response efforts amid questions about how the funds were spent.

President Duterte (RTVM Screenshot)

Duterte made the statement amid the Senate’s probe on the purchase of allegedly overpriced COVID-19 supplies, including personal protective equipment (PPEs), by the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

In his second pre-recorded public address this week, the President said the administration will refute the allegations, “misinformation, and noise by the naysayers” against the government.

“Sinabi ko na maraming dokumento na (I told you that there are documents that are), well, true but not relevant,” he said late Thursday night, September 2.

“Hindi naman sabihin mo na yung mga dokumento nila peke– totoo ‘yan (I’m not saying that their documents are fake– those are real). But we will also counter it with the documents that were made during our time,” he added.

“Mabuti yung (It’s better) that you have something to compare,” he continued.

In his remarks, the President reiterated that the supplies purchased by the PS-DBM were not overpriced and were even below the suggested retail price (SRP) set by the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

“No, they are not. PS-DBM procured the surgical masks below the SRP during the time,” he said.

“It is not accurate to compare the purchase price of surgical masks at the height of COVID-19, and during the period when the supply began to stabilize,” he added.

Duterte said the prices of the supplies at the time were quite high because of the demand.

“At the height of the pandemic when it began, we had nothing. Kaya (That’s why) we had to look for the gadgets, the PPEs, and the mask wherever we can,” he said.

“There was no supply kasi bigla ang putok ng pandemic (because the pandemic just came out of nowhere),” he added.

Meanwhile, he reiterated that the DOH, under the previous Aquino administration bought PPEs worth at least P3,500 each.

“The Aquino government bought PPEs at P3,500, way more expensive than the ones we bought at PHP1,900. Yun 2014, wala pa man pandemic noon (That was in 2014 and there was no pandemic yet),” the President said.