Press Release
September 13, 2021

Inspection documents for China-made PPEs signed even before delivery, inspection

GOVERNMENT procurement personnel have been ordered to sign inspection documents for personal protective equipment (PPEs) from China even before the items were delivered or inspected.

This was revealed on Monday's Senate blue ribbon committee hearing on the Covid-19 budget utilization of the Department of Health (DoH) during Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan's turn to question the resource persons.

"Some inspection reports were signed even if the delivered goods were not actually inspected," Pangilinan said, noting that the goods were still in China when the reports were signed.

Jorge Mendoza, whose contract as Department of Budget and Management Procurement Service (DBM-PS) inspection chief was not renewed, revealed that he remembers two instances when documents were signed as guarantee to Chinese suppliers.

"Wala pang delivery but we were advised or instructed to prepare the inspection documents, considering nga po na it will be an attachment to assure the China suppliers na sila ay mababayaran once the shipment or yung PPEs will arrive sa Pilipinas," Mendoza told the Senate hearing.

"There was this instance... during pandemic times, there was no... supply of PPEs. So we [had] to resort to China," Mendoza said.

When Pangilinan asked if the delivery happened only after payment has been posted to the Chinese suppliers, Mendoza replied yes and admitted that this is not normal procedure for DBM-PS.

When the senator asked Mervin Tanquintic, of DBM-PS, if he also signed inspection reports without seeing the items, the latter also replied yes, saying that they were instructed by "management" to do this.

Asked by Pangilinan if it was former DBM-PS chief Christopher Lao who told them to sign the reports, Tanquintic said no.

The number and price of PPEs covered in these two instances have not yet been disclosed.

Philippine law requires actual inspection before the signing of inspection documents and before the PPEs can be delivered and paid for.

Mendoza identified former DBM-PS accounting Chief Raul Catalan as the one who asked him and fellow inspectors to sign the papers. "The one who advised me to prepare or to sign the inspection report is yung sa finance considering they will be the one to pay," he said.

Pangilinan asked the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to invite Catalan to shed light on the premature singing of inspection reports for China-made PPEs.

The senator said he also wants to find out why the work contracts of DBM-PS personnel, including that of Mendoza, who has been in government service for 31 years, have not been renewed. "I want to know how many were removed or were not renewed because we are investigating wrongdoing here. So we want to know if this is part of an effort to... keep it under wraps, remove people who might know something," he said.

Earlier, Pangilinan also took note of Pharmally's delivery on the same day that the government posted the Request for Quotation shortly after Pharmally's Lincoln Ong testified that his company was able to deliver 500,000 face masks on March 25, the same day Pharmally received the request from DBM-PS.

Ong said the PPEs did not undergo customary testing procedures during the early days of the pandemic due to unavailability of government-accredited testing centers and lack of flights to access testing centers abroad.

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee is currently investigating the procurement of "overpriced" PPEs, face masks, and shields made by DBM-PS on behalf of the Department of Health last year.

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