Video courtesy of PTV
Government-bought personal safety equipment saved health workers from COVID-19, despite allegations that the gear included expired face shields, President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesman argued.
Authorities awarded Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. some P8.6 billion in contracts for medical supplies last year. An executive of the firm last week told a Senate inquiry that Pharmally "swindled" government by selling face shields that were damaged or soiled, with bogus manufacturing dates.
The face shields were part of 9-piece PPEs that also included masks, aprons, eye shields, and foot covers, among others, Duterte's spokesman Harry Roque said.
"Sinasabi nila pineke raw ‘yong date of manufacture. Kung totoo po ‘yon, talagang dapat panagutin. Pero hindi po ibig sabihin na ‘yong buong PPE na 9-piece ay naapektuhan ng face shield na ‘yon," he told Duterte in a taped meeting that aired on Tuesday.
(They say the date of manufacture was faked. If that is true, they must be held accountable. But it does not mean that the whole 9-piece PPE was affected by that face shield.)
"Panagutin at maliit lang naman ang halaga ng face shield. At ang pinakamaliit po sigurong halaga d’yan ay ‘yong face mask tapos ‘yong face shield," Roque continued.
(Hold them accountable and the price of the face shield is small. The face shield and mask are perhaps the cheapest.)
The health department inspected the PPEs before receiving them and found they were "pursuant to WHO standard," he said.
"Kung ang tanong nagkaroon ba ng danyos ang Pilipino dahil diumano ay pinalabas na one year na-produce ang face shield? Ang sagot, wala po," Roque said.
(If the question is were there damages because they made it appear the face shields were produced within one year? The answer is there was none.)
He added all the Pharmally PPEs have been used by health workers.
"Lahat po ng binili natin doon sa 9-piece set na ‘yan, naging dahilan para maisalba ang buhay ng mga medical frontliners. Kung hindi po natin ‘yan binili, mas marami sanang health workers ang nasawi dahil sa COVID," Roque said.
(Everything we bought in those 9-piece sets saved the lives of medical frontliners. If they were not bought, many more health workers would have died due to COVID.)
"I daresay, Mayor, even one life saved by the billions of pesos we spent was well worth it because the Filipino is worth spending for," he told Duterte.
Parroting the President's accusation, Roque also claimed the Senate investigation into Pharmally's deals was "in aid of election", not legislation.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III meanwhile said investigating and uncovering the truth "never brought any harm to a nation."
"Senators are not prosecutors. We simply ask questions and recommend. The executive and the Ombudsman prosecute, not us," he said.
"We will not be distracted," added Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon.