‘Iyong profit set aside muna’: Lacson on allegations of overpriced COVID-19 testing equipment

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 23 2020 08:58 PM | Updated as of May 23 2020 09:23 PM

MANILA--Sen. Panfilo Lacson on Saturday said personal interests need to be set aside during the pandemic, as allegations surfaced that some COVID-19 testing machines and kits bought by government were overpriced.

Lacson this week quizzed the Department of Health and the Department of Budget Management over the issue.

In an interview on ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo this weekend, the senator said public welfare must be prioritized.

He also blasted the two departments for pointing fingers over who should be responsible for the purchases.

"Kasama tayo lahat sa panawagan na ito, na patawirin nila muna itong COVID-19 pandemic kasi extraordinary crisis ito. At ito buhay nakasalalay. Baka pwede naman kalimutan ang sariling bulsa at puro patriotism muna, humanitarian ang isipin," Lacson said.

" 'Yung profit set aside muna nila."

Lacson last Tuesday questioned the DOH and the DBM in a Senate hearing why they bought COVID-19 testing machines and swabbing kits for more than twice the price of similar equipment bought by private companies.

A private firm allegedly bought nucleic acid extractors needed to process coronavirus tests for P1.75 million each, while the DOH, through the DBM, got the machines for P4 million a piece.

"Pera ng government ang ginagastos, mas mahal pa ang bibilhin mo kesa sa private sector. Hindi lang sin, kundi criminal act na 'yan," Lacson said.

During the Senate hearing, DOH Sec. Francisco Duque III said his office sought the DBM's help in sourcing medical facility suppliers.

“DBM has a much wider network of local and international suppliers. We were thinking they would be able to get at very competitive if not reasonable pricing points," Duque said.

However, DBM Usec. Llyod Christopher Lao answered by saying the private sector bought a different brand manufactured in China and it can only procure based on the DOH's request.

"Turuan nang turuan, hanggang sa parang gumugulo 'yung usapan," said Lacson, who had vowed a "day of reckoning" for the officials involved in the purchase.

Malacañang earlier said that President Rodrigo Duterte is seeking an investigation into the overpriced procurement.