Inside the ambulances procured by the Department of Health (DOH) with an overprice of P1 million each are overpriced equipment ranging from automated external defibrillators (AEDs) to mobile phones, dashboard cameras and stretchers.
Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson bared these on Wednesday, even as he reiterated his call to the DOH to use public funds more judiciously.
“These are public funds. I augmented the budget of the Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP) to comply with the Universal Health Care Law. Somehow I feel guilty when I see overpricing,” Lacson said at the DOH’s 2022 budget hearing.
“Sana man lang maging judicious tayo sa paggastos ng public funds (We just hope the DOH would be judicious in using public funds),” he added.
He noted the DOH submitted prices for two mobile phones with SIM cards for Region 4A at P30,000 but the local government units bought phones with similar specifications for only P7,998. “Ang laki ng discrepancy (The discrepancy is huge),” Lacson said.
Also, Lacson said the DOH procured dashboard cameras for P15,000 each but the retail prices for such items were only P4,500 each – a P10,500 difference.
Meanwhile, the DOH procured stretchers at P23,800 each when the items were worth P21,200 each.
On the other hand, the DOH procured AEDs at P165,000 each for Region 4A, when the retail prices of such equipment stood at P96,500 – a P68,000 markup.
“These are the things we want explained by the Department para hindi na maulit (We want the DOH to explain these so this will not happen again),” Lacson said.
In response, DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III said Lacson was right. Duque said he has ordered his staff to look into it, adding he needed to do a “brand-to-brand comparison.”
“Canvass namin ang actual brand and specifications. Yan ang ginawa namin para sigurado na. If you want, we can furnish you to aid you in your investigation (We canvassed the actual brand and specifications, to make sure. If you want, we can furnish these to you to aid you in your investigation),” Lacson replied.
Meanwhile, Lacson pushed for the inclusion of Special Risk Allowance-type assistance to outsourced personnel in their contracts, to make sure they are properly compensated.
“Siguro kung outsource ang hospitals advice namin isama sa contract nila ang parang SRA-type assistance to their personnel (Our advice to hospitals that outsource their personnel is to include in their contracts an SRA-type assistance),” he said.