Senator Risa Hontiveros should file cases if she has evidence to prove the government’s alleged overpriced purchase of protective gear for health workers, a Palace official said Thursday.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Hontiveros could file her complaint about any alleged irregularity in government procurement before the Office of the Ombudsman and the Department of Justice (DOJ).
“To Senator Risa Hontiveros, bukas po ang Ombudsman, bukas po ang DOJ. Kung mayroon po kayong ebidensiya, magdemanda po kayo (To Senator Risa Hontiveros, the Ombudsman is open, the DOJ is open. If you have evidence, file a case),” Roque said during a televised briefing.
Hontiveros earlier raised the alarm about possible P1 billion loss in public funds over the government’s purchase of alleged overpriced personal protective equipment from five Chinese firms.
She alleged the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) bought 5 million PPEs that each cost between P1,700 to P2,000, which were P200 more expensive compared to the gear bought by a state hospital. The controversial purchase of the PPEs was made from April to May just as the country’s coronavirus cases were accelerating.
Roque said the President has already clarified the government’s purchase of PPEs for health workers in a previous public address, insisting there was “absolute transparency” on the matter.
“Isipin po natin, pinurchase natin iyang PPE na iyan sa kasagsagan noong ating ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) at saka MECQ (modified community quarantine) kung saan kakaunti pa rin ang supply (Let’s consider the purchase of the PPEs was made at the height of our ECQ and MECQ where the supplies were limited),” he said.
He said it was the period when local companies were manufacturing PPEs using imported materials. “So ‘yung mga panahon na iyon wala naman tayong choice kundi bumili rin ng mga imported PPE (We had no choice but to buy imported PPEs at the time),” he added.