‘Bakit Higit Doble ang Presyo ng Gobyerno Kesa Private Sector?’: At the Senate Hearing on the COVID-19 Situation

May 19, 2020 - At the hearing of the Senate Committee of the Whole on the government’s response against COVID-19, Sen. Lacson questioned the seeming overprice in the purchase of equipment to address the pandemic.

‘Bakit Doble?’

Sen. Lacson questioned an “overprice” in the DOH’s purchase of equipment, citing data from the private sector (Project ARK), a private sector initiative to make mass testing available nationwide.

A nucleic acid extractor supplied by Sansure and acquired by the private sector was priced at P1.75M. But the DOH acquired a same machine with a different brand (Thermo Scientific King Fisher Flex) at P4M each. “Bakit mas mahal ang bili ng government kesa bili ng private sector?

Sen. Lacson also questioned why a swabbing system acquired by private sector was at $16 each, but the DOH’s was priced double it. “Bakit higit doble ang presyo ng gobyerno sa presyo ng private sector?

DBM Usec Lloyd Christopher Lao said the DBM Procurement Service can procure based on an agency’s purchase request. If the request is brand-based, “you can only buy that specific brand.”

Sec. Duque said that if an investigation will happen, “we will cooperate fully,” but added “none of these was directly procured by DOH.” He said he has instructed his undersecretary for admin and finance to collate the documents, saying program managers are the ones who provide specifications. The DBM’s procurement service cannot do that on its own; “it has to be on the basis of specs provided by program manager, in this case, RITM.”

Sen. Lacson also questioned the DOH’s daily situationer report that he said do not include data on positively tested individuals on a specified date. “What you are reporting to the public is not an accurate representation of the number of individuals tested on that specific date.” Sec. Duque said they will make the adjustment.

Data accuracy is key to making sound decision kung policy is based on inaccurate or out of date data, mali ang decision natin,” Sen. Lacson reminded Sec. Duque.

Contact Tracing:

Sen. Lacson asked for an accurate update of contact tracing, noting that as of May 19, 199,285 were tested but only some 171,000 were “traced.” “It doesn’t add up. Isang tao maraming na-contact yan bago na-test.”

Bakit mas maraming na-test kesa na-contact?

National Action Plan:

Sen. Lacson reminded the IATF that a National Action Plan is “a powerful tool that provides structure and series of actions to achieve outlined goals.” He asked the IATF to provide the Senate a copy of this, since it has not received such for the last seven weeks.

Revenues Down:

Sen. Lacson asked DOF Secretary Carlos Dominguez III on the status of the government’s revenue collection as of the end of the first quarter. “I assume big-time na-down ang ating collection because consumption is down, imports are down. As you mentioned in your presentations mas umaasa tayo sa GOCCs.”

Sec. Dominguez said revenues are flat – P352B against end-April compared to P451B as of end-April of 2019. “That was because we postponed April 15 tax.” He added they lost was excise tax collections between mid-March till probably end-May.


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