MANILA – To quash allegations about the misuse of public funds, President Rodrigo Duterte will release an official report on the procurement of medical supplies and equipment on the government’s coronavirus disease (Covid-19) response efforts.
In a public address late Thursday night, Duterte assured Senators Franklin Drilon and Panfilo “Ping” Lacson that his office would be sending them a report on the cost of items bought in response to their allegations that they cost more than the ones bought by the private sector.
“May I inform Senator Drilon and Ping Lacson and everybody — ganun ang nangyari (that’s what happened). We will have a report coming your way and that is the stand of the Office of the President. Kami ho ang nag-utos niyan na dito na sa budget para pag-release ng pera madali, diretso na (We ordered the purchase so it would be faster),” he said.
He told the two senators to “wait for the report” out of respect for his office and advised them against believing whatever allegations about the purchase of supplies and equipment.
“Kayo maniniwala kaagad (You easily believed). You better wait for the official report at least for respeto (respect). A little respect coming from the Office of the President kasi sinadya ko ‘yan (because I did that intentionally),” he said.
Duterte also defended Health Secretary Francisco Duque III from suspicions that he was behind the anomalous transactions, stressing that he himself ordered the supply purchase since he knew the officials and other personnel of the Department of Health (DOH) were “overworked.”
Senators and other sectors have called for Duque’s resignation for his handling of the Covid-19 health crisis, the alleged overpriced supplies, and equipment as well as his recent claim that the country is now experiencing the second wave of Covid-19 infection which he later took back.
“They unfairly dragged the name of Secretary Duque — hindi ho totoo ‘yon. Ang nagbili noon ang budget pati ‘yung Office of the President mismo. Sinadya ko ‘yon para madali (that’s not true. The Department of Budget and Management and the Office of the President ordered the supply purchase. I intentionally did that so it would be quick),” he said.
Duterte disclosed that the local supplier who supposedly offered a lower price for the medical supplies and equipment did not actually participate in the bidding process.
He, meanwhile, expressed hope that his report would put an end to both senators’ doubts over the supply purchase.
“Well, you will have the explanation and better believe it because ‘yon ang totoo. Hindi naman kami nambobola (that’s the truth. We’re not just pulling your leg),” he said.
On Monday, Duterte asked the National Bureau of Investigation to carefully study allegations that a local supplier was selling overpriced medical equipment in the country. (PNA)