The Commission on Audit (COA) on Wednesday said its audit report did not mention any “overpricing” in the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other Covid-19 supplies made by the Department of Budget and Management-Procurement Service (PS-DBM).
During a hearing of the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability, COA Chairman Michael Aguinaldo said the observations made in the report pertained more to the inventory management of the PS-DBM and does not say anything on the alleged overpricing of the medical supplies.
“There is no statement in the COA report on the PS-DBM saying that there was overpricing. There’s no statement to that. The observation is related more to inventory management than overpricing. So it’s not right to say that COA mentioned something about overpricing because nothing of that sort was in the report,” Aguinaldo said partly in Filipino.
COA has flagged the DOH for transferring P2.4 billion worth of funds to PS-DBM for the procurement of Covid-19 supplies.
The PS-DBM awarded Pharmally Pharmaceuticals Corporation contracts worth P8.68 billion for the purchase of PPE and testing kits, which were believed to be overpriced, at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic last year.
During the same hearing, former PS-DBM director and now deputy Ombudsman Warren Liong said the medical supplies were not overpriced, noting that the prices were lower compared to the suggested retail price of the Department of Health.
“Were the PPE sets purchased by the government in 2020 really overpriced? No. Since the price of face masks during the [start of the] pandemic increased, the DOH suggested a retail price and price freeze at P28. The price the government paid was P27.72, somewhere actually lower,” Liong said in Filipino.
Liong said there were no “ghost deliveries” of medical supplies, adding that around 500,000 pieces of surgical masks from Pharmally were already readily available.
“Their face masks were readily available. In my presentation, I showed the deliveries of other suppliers as well when they were delivered to show that all that we purchased were delivered,” he said partly in Filipino.
He said there is also an inspection certificate and acceptance report (ICAR) to prove that the Covid-19 supplies were delivered.
Supervising auditor for the Department of Health (DOH) Rhodora Ugay, meanwhile, said the COA report did not flag the health agency for corruption, overpricing, or ghost deliveries.
Ugay said the report only flagged the transfer of funds because it had no required memorandum of agreement and supporting documents such as the liquidation of pending procurements.