MANILA — The Commission on Audit (COA) has flagged the Philippine International Trading Corporation's (PITC) emergency purchase of personal protective equipment (PPEs) with an approved budget of P186.584 million in 2020.
Government auditors noted in its 2020 audit report on the PITC that the agency awarded the procurement contract for various PPE items to a bidder capable of delivering all the items despite lower price proposals in some of the items offered by another bidder.
The auditors noted that if the lowest price proposal for each item was considered, the government could have saved a total of P2.166 million.
They said that the prices of shoe covers and aprons of the lowest bidder were P11.80 and P5 lower compared to bids of the winning bidder.
“It was further noted that the wining bidder incurred a delay in delivery,” the auditors said.
The audit report did not specify the winning bidder but a cross-check of the reference number mentioned in the report with the PITC website shows that the contract was awarded to Biosite Medical Instruments based in Matina, Davao City.
Ten different notices of award dated April 1, 2020 sent to Biosite were uploaded on the PITC website.
The total amount of awarded contracts for surgical masks, shoe covers, N95 masks, head covers, gowns, goggles, gloves, face shields, coveralls and aprons intended for the Department of Health (DOH) is P129.803 million.
In the audit report, government auditors recommended that the PITC management instruct its bids and awards committee to be meticulous in the evaluation of bid proposals “to serve the best interest of the government.”
The PITC management, however, stressed to the audit team that those familiar with Republic Act No. 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act would know that the lowest price proposal of a bidder is not the sole factor in determining the winning bidder.
The PITC also said that for the emergency procurement of PPEs, a premium was given to suppliers who could deliver most, if not all items, as declared in the request for quotations.
“This concern was emphasized by DOH to ensure that medical frontliners will have the complete set of PPEs, not just a particular item in the set, which, at that specific time, and given the worldwide scenario, had an uneven supply condition,” the PITC management told the audit team.
The PITC also said that even if the winning bidder did not have the lowest bid, it was still within the approved budget contract.
It also emphasized that the delay in the delivery by a supplier can never be predicted by a procuring entity.
In a rejoinder, COA said prices are "still one of the primary considerations in awarding the contract."
“As rejoinders, although the price is not the sole factor in determining the winning bidder, the audit team would like to emphasized that it is still one of the primary considerations in awarding the contract particularly when all the bidders met the eligibility and technical requirements,” the audit team said.