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Saturday, December 9, 2023

Nothing irregular in purchases of PPE, face masks–officials

Officials on Wednesday denied allegations that the Department of Health (DOH) paid the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) twice for the same set of personal protective equipment (PPE).

In a statement, the DOH said that it needed to procure full sets of PPEs in bulk as well as order loose surgical masks and face shields separately to protect health care workers in both high- and low-risk settings.

The PS-DBM maintains a virtual store, similar to online shopping platforms, where common-use supplies and equipment (CSEs), like PPEs, are available for the purchase of national government agencies and local government units (LGUs). Virtual store orders can be immediately claimed by the procuring agency.

The DOH scanned the PS-DBM virtual store and purchased loose face shields and surgical masks, which were readily available, to immediately augment PPE supplies for health care workers in low-risk settings.

As for the bulk PPE sets, these had to be ordered and took more time to be delivered. The PPE sets include nine components such as coverall suits, gloves, N95 mask, head cover, shoe cover, surgical mask, surgical gown, apron, and face shield.

“The DOH reiterates that these are separate transactions and all orders were completely turned over to the department,” the DOH said.

“Moreover, the procured PPEs were given free of charge to health care workers in public and private hospitals and other health facilities, the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ), and Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Units (RESUs) to ensure their safety,” it added.

Senators on Tuesday grilled Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on the alleged double payment made for medical supplies after P42 billion was transferred by the DOH to the PS-DBM.

“Did the PS-DBM sell to DOH the same face shields, which the agency already paid for?” asked Minority Leader Franklin Drilon.

“When you moved P42 billion to PS-DBM, did you move it so they can purchase medical supplies and equipment for you, which are now common-use supplies and equipment?” Drilon asked Duque.

“Or did you transfer the P42 billion so PS-DBM can build an inventory from where public hospitals can get their supplies?” the opposition senator asked.

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