Where are the face masks, shields PS-DBM bought? Drilon asks

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 02 2021 01:39 PM

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MANILA - Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Thursday said he would ask the Department of Health and the Department of Budget and Management's procurement service (PS-DBM) in an upcoming hearing where the face shields and face masks the agencies bought currently are.

One of the topics discussed at the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee's investigation into the DOH's utilization of COVID-19 funds is the transfer of P42 billion to the PS-DBM and the supposedly overpriced purchase of protective equipment at the start of the pandemic.

Drilon said the current whereabouts of these face shields, face masks, and test kits have not been discussed, but he will ask about it.

"What happened? Where is it now? I haven’t asked these questions. I intend to ask these questions. I’m addressing already our good friends PS-DBM and the Department of Health: please be prepared to show and explain to us where these hundreds of millions of face masks, 115 million to be precise, where did these go," he told ANC's Headstart.

"Was this sold? These are supposed to be from the budget of the DOH and was supposed to be supplies of DOH hospitals at the very least," he said.

PS-DBM is an attached agency of the DBM whose mandate is to buy commonly used supplies for agencies in bulk and at cheaper cost. However, Drilon said face shields, face masks, and testing kits are not commonly used supplies and its purchase should have been "within the professional competence of the Department of Health."

"These are medical supplies. Who else are competent to judge as to the quality, to the need for this equipment, medical equipment but the Department of Health? The Department of Health has a number of bids and awards committee headed by undersecretaries," he said.

Drilon said if PS-DBM stuck to its mandate, "this thing wouldn’t happen."

"But when they went around and started buying things which are not in their expertise and could not by any language be considered as common used equipment and supplies then the opportunity was there to commit corruption as they did," he said.

He said he does not know what else can be done to prevent a similar occurrence in the PS-DBM because "no matter what kind of system you have, if the person you place there is a crook, no system can prevent that."

However, he raised that the only other way would be to abolish the office as a whole, which only the president of the Philippines has the power to do.

The Senate is set to resume its investigation next Tuesday, September 7.