Press Release
September 16, 2020

Hontiveros questions DBM, DOH on overpriced, China-made PPEs

"Overpriced na nga, di pa pinagawa sa Pilipinas."

This was the remark made by Senator Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday as she questioned the five million overpriced, China-made personal protective equipment (PPE) sets the Department of Budget and Management-Procurement Service (PS-DBM) purchased from April to May of this year.

"Out of the 11 contracts of the PPE sets, seven were with China-based companies. Bakit inuna ang mga dayuhang kontraktor bago ang mga Pilipinong kumpanya? To make matters worse, in these 11 procurements we analyzed, it appears that the PPE prices were overpriced by at least P200 per unit or P1 billion in total," the senator revealed, explaining that the Philippine General Hospital estimates that PPE sets costs P1,200-P1,500, while PPE sets procured by PS-DBM range from P1,700-P2,000.

"Isang bilyon ang nawala sa kaban ng bayan. This is one billion pesos that could have gone to more PPEs, especially during a time when an increasing number of our health workers were dying because of inadequate protection. Crucially, the one billion pesos could have also been allocated to increase the salaries of our health workers," the senator said.

Hontiveros also lamented how China-based companies were prioritized. Of the five million PPE sets, almost 3 million of these were outsourced from Chinese companies, including Xuzhou Const. Machinery Group, Wen Hua Dev't Industrial Co., Ltd., Chushen Company Ltd., Pacific Field (Hong Kong) Ltd., and Shanghai Puheng Medical Equipment Co. Ltd.

"Sa panahon na naghihingalo ang mga negosyanteng Pilipino, ang laking insulto naman na ang mga foreign companies pa ang nabigyan ng trabaho kesa sa kanila. Alam din natin na mas matindi ang quality assurance and control ng mga Philippine-made products, kaya nakakapagtataka kung bakit foreign-made ang inuna," she said.

The senator also said that from DBM's list, the cheapest PPE sets — priced at P1,700 per set — were from Hafid N' Erasmus Corporation, a Philippine-based company, and yet only 30,000 units were acquired from them.

On the other hand, more PPE sets from foreign firms were bought: 1 million sets for P1,898 per unit, and an additional 250,000 sets for P2,000 per unit from Xuzhou; 588,000 sets for 1979.56 per unit from Chushen; 200,000 sets for P1923 per unit from Shanghai Puheng; 42,000 sets for P1980.50 per unit, and an additional 800,000 sets for P1923 per unit, from Wen Hua; and 28,000 sets for P1,900 per unit from Pacific Field.

"DBM should explain these suspicious transactions. The Department of Health should also have exercised its mandate to inspect these procurements, especially since this is a vital aspect of our overall COVID-19 response," the senator said.

"Our government agencies should only answer one simple question: Bakit binigyan ng prayoridad ang Tsina bago ang Pilipinas? If they have a good answer to that, and I doubt they do, only then can they be absolved of this," Hontiveros concluded.

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