Pangilinan wants to push probe over pricey COVID-19 testing kits

Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 26 2020 12:08 PM

MANILA - Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan on Tuesday said he wants the Senate to continue investigating the health department's procurement of allegedly overpriced testing kits and testing machines.

The Senate should check if there is connivance among government agencies such as the Department of Health, the Department of Budget and Management, and Philippine Health Insurance Corp.

“Itutulak pa rin natin ang pag-imbestiga ng overpriced na testing kits at testing machines sa Senado. Meron bang kumita at kung meron sinu dino ito? Meron bang sabwatan?" Pangilinan said in a statement.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon has also joined the call for a Senate probe while hoping that the president’s refusal to sack Health Secretary Francisco Duque III does not mean that he is absolving the Health chief.
"I call for a fair and impartial investigation... These are taxpayers’ money we’re talking about here to the tune of billions [of] pesos getting wasted due to corruption or gross negligence," Drilon said in a separate statement.

A Senate Committee of the Whole last week found that the DOH bought some nucleic acid extractors needed to process coronavirus tests for P4 million each, while a private company availed of similar equipment at P1.75 million each.

The same hearing also found that PhilHealth has been offering a COVID-19 testing package amounting to P8,000, while the Philippine Red Cross only charges about P3,000 per kit.

PhilHealth and DOH officials earlier told senators that they would "review" why their items were priced higher than equipment from the private sector.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said he also wants an investigation on the alleged overpriced health equipment.

- with reports from Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News