A health worker takes a swab of a woman in Brgy. Pasadena in San Juan City on May 6, 2020.
The STAR/Michael Varcas
Duterte report: NBI sent summons to persons allegedly selling overpriced COVID-19 machines
(Philstar.com) - June 2, 2020 - 11:29am

MANILA, Philippines — The National Bureau of Investigation has sent summons to persons allegedly involved in selling of overpriced medical equipment used in the fight against COVID-19 to the government, President Rodrigo Duterte said.

Duterte reported to the Congress on Monday that the NBI has started a “thorough investigation into allegations that the [Department of Health] purchased Automated Nucleic Acid Extraction Machines.”

“The NBI likewise issued subpoenas to persons allegedly involved in the said overpricing of medical equipment to determine whether there was violation of the Price Act and the Bayanihan Act,” he added.

The president did not identify who are the individuals subjected to NBI probe.

Duterte last week directed the NBI to look into a certain “Co” couple who allegedly offered to sell medical equipment to the government at a higher price.

Budget Secretary Lloyd Lao said in the briefing aired late night of May 25 that the couple are owner of Omnibus Bio-Medical Systems, a distributor of Sansure in the Philippines.

He said the couple wrote to the Department of Budget and Management and offered automated extraction machine at P4 million, while another e-mail indicated that the equipment is priced P4.35 million. The budget official, however, noted that Sen. Panfilo Lacson said that the machine can be bought directly from Sansure at P1.75 million.

A GMA News Online report said that Omnibus confirmed last week that it offered the machine to the budget department for P4.3 million, but it included 25,000 NATCH consumables in the pricing. These are plastics used to conduct RNA extraction.

Also included in their offer to the government are air transport, delivery fees, storage, destination charges, warehousing and other accessories for the operation and maintenance of the machine.

Probe into makeshift hospitals

In the same report, Duterte told the Congress that the Bureau of Immigration is conducting a case build-up against the Chinese nationals who were arrested in an illegally operated medical facility at Fontana Leisure Park in Pampanga.

Complaints for illegal practice of medicine and for operating a medical clinic/hospital and pharmacy in violation on the Republic Act 2382 or the Medical Act of 1959 and RA 3720 or the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act have been filed  against the two Chinese nationals. — Kristine Joy Patag

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