MANILA, Philippines – The Chairman of the Audit Commission (COA), Michael Aguinaldo, clarified Wednesday that their audit report never stated that the purchase of pandemic supplies by the Procurement Service-Department of Budget and of management (PS-DBM) was “too expensive”.
During a hearing of the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability, Aguinaldo explained that the “observations” in the COA report “relate more to inventory management than price overvaluation.”
House panel is investigating PS-DBM procurement of equipment for government response to COVID-19 pandemic following COA report signaling transfer by Department of Health (DOH) of 42 billion pesos in pandemic funds to agencies, including the PS-DBM.
In a separate Senate investigation, it was revealed that much of the funds were used to purchase equipment from Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp., which sold the items at a higher price than other companies.
“The most important is the COA report on the PS-DBM statement with price overvaluation, there is no statement about it. The observations are more about inventory management than overvaluation, ”Aguinaldo said at the start of the House hearing.
(What I can say is that it is not stated in the COA report on PS-DBM that there was an overvaluation, there is no statement about it. The observations relate more to inventory management as overvaluation.)
“So you should know that COA and nagsabi are too expensive, kasi wala po sinabi ‘yon. Anyway, nandito po kami to be able to clarify all the questions that the members of the committee will ask, ”he added.
(So it’s not fair to say that COA was the one who said there were excessive prices, because we didn’t say so. Either way, we’re here to be able to bring clarification of any questions committee members will ask.)
The congressional investigations were an offshoot of the COA report which marked gaps in DOH spending of its 2020 COVID-19 funds. The COA report also highlighted the transfers of 42 billion pesos made by the health agency to its purchasing partners such as PS-DBM.
READ: P8.7-B drug supply agreements awarded to a small business
It was discovered that some 8.7 billion pesos of the funds had been transferred to Pharmally, which, during investigations, turned out to have only a small capital of 625,000 pesos. Therefore, the Senate investigation focused on Pharmally, which sold face masks at P27 per piece – versus another local supplier who sold the same item at just P13 each.
READ: Confession from Pharmally executive suggests Yang has deep financial ties – Gordon
During Senate hearings, it was also revealed that what Pharmally did was ask local and Chinese suppliers to supply the items, which they then delivered to the government.
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