Lacson on overpricing: Let the records speak

Cecille Suerte Felipe - The Philippine Star
Lacson on overpricing: Let the records speak
Lacson said records will indicate whether the face masks and face shields procured by the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) were overpriced or not.
Senate PRIB, file

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Panfilo Lacson does not buy the claim that no overpricing or anomaly stained the government’s procurement of medical supplies from Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp., saying “the record will speak for itself.”

Lacson said records will indicate whether the face masks and face shields procured by the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) were overpriced or not.

“Compared to the price quote or sale of other suppliers, the price from Pharmally is much higher. Let the records speak. It’s all official,” Lacson said in an interview over Teleradyo yesterday.

“If Mr. Ferrer (Ferdinand Ferrer of EMS Group of Companies), a local entrepreneur, sells for P13.50, Pharmally does at P22.50, P22, P27.50.

Which is more expensive if the other supplier sells at P13.50? Even in India, 50K pieces is priced at P13 apiece. Pharmally’s price is something else. It’s up to our people to decide,” he added.

On the claim of Overall Deputy Ombudsman Warren Rex Liong that proper procedures were followed consistent with the Government Procurement Policy Board (GPPB) resolution, Lacson clarified that the company involved should be “legally, technically, and financially capable” of transacting with the PS-DBM.

“Isn’t the investment of Pharmally only P625,000? You can get billions upon billions of contracts, what do you call that? So the documents are our basis,” he said. “It (Pharmally) is clearly not financially capable.”

Presupposing that there were no connections in high places pulling some strings, Lacson asked how deliveries and payments could have been made in the absence of purchase orders?

Also, Lacson pointed out that the Department of Health (DOH) had the PS-DBM purchase common-use supplies, but the actual purchases were not.

“Then the DOH buys the items from the PS-DBM again, while it was the DOH’s money used in the procurement,” he said. “Then patients are also charged for PPEs. That’s not just double payment, but sometimes triple payment.”

COA: P1-B EMB supplies still undelivered

The Commission on Audit (COA) has directed the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) to demand the delivery or liquidation of office supplies, equipment and airline tickets totaling P1.058 billion that it procured from the PS-DBM and the Philippine International Trade Center (PITC).

In its annual audit report on the EMB, the COA noted that out of a total of P1.131 billion that the PS-DBM and PITC received from the EMB in 2020 and prior years for the procurement of common-use office supplies, equipment and airfare tickets, only six percent or P72.444 million was liquidated as of Dec. 31, 2020.

This leaves a balance of 94 percent or P1.058 billion, of which P656.622 million pertains to the fund transfers to PS-DBM, and P401.853 million to the PITC.

The COA faulted the EMB Central Office (CO) for the bulk of the fund transferred to the PS-DBM and PITC despite the previous failures of both agencies to procure the items or liquidate the funds.

The COA said that while PS-DBM claimed that P443.338 million of the transferred funds was already returned to the Bureau of Treasury, no official receipt (OR) was submitted to the audit team.

It said the OR remained unsubmitted by the PS-DBM despite constant follow-ups through email and phone by the EMB’s Administrative, Financial and Management Division.

Meanwhile, the COA noted that while the P472.435-million fund transferred by EMB CO to PITC was reduced by P70.6 million on Sept. 30, 2020, the check issued for the liquidation turned out to be “cancelled/staled.” A replacement check has yet to be issued by the PITC, it added.

The COA also flagged regional offices (ROs) of the EMB for various amounts in unliquidated funds or undelivered common-use office supplies, equipment or even airline tickets.

A number of ROs, including EMB NCR, had fund balances or deliveries that were “not yet taken up as liquidation in the books” due to lack of delivery receipts. – Elizabeth Marcelo

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