Deputy Speaker and SAGIP Party List Rep. Rodante Marcoleta dismissed Senator Risa Hontiveros’ evidence of alleged overpricing in government’s purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) as a mere publicity stunt to taint the administration.
“Senator Hontiveros bristles at criticisms for not presenting hard evidence to back her claims. However, what she presented to the media on Monday only confirms what we’ve known all along: she has no evidence and she can’t prove a baseless claim of overpricing because there’s none,” Marcoleta said.
He said the opposition senator brandished 11 documents purportedly from the Department of Budget and Management’s Procurement Service. He said these only show two things: that DBM purchased PPEs between April and May; and that purchase contracts were awarded to four Filipino and seven Chinese firms including the quantity, price and delivery dates of the protective gear.
“None of these documents show, much less prove, that the PPEs purchased by DBM were overpriced. Something can only be deemed ‘overpriced’ if it can be shown that other companies, Filipinos or otherwise, supplied PPE sets to the government with the same specifications, quality and stock availability at lower prices. Without a clear price comparison, allegations of overpricing are simply figments of her imagination,” Marcoleta said.
Instead of showing mere purchase contracts, he said Hontiveros could have presented a comparative matrix backed by receipts or other documents showing her claimed price disparity.
Marcoleta said the opposition senator’s claim that the Philippine General Hospital purchased PPEs at much lower prices could only pertain to old, existing stocks from retail outlets as no Philippine company could meet the government’s massive emergency requirements. “It’s a fact that test kits and PPE prices jumped astronomically around April and May as countries tried to outbid each other for much needed supplies for their frontliners. Prices only stabilized as production started to cope with demand by July-August,” he said.
In the case of PPEs bought during the Aquino administration at P3,500 per set, there was very clear evidence of overpricing when compared to the average P1,700 per PPE set bought by the current DBM, he said.
While Congress has oversight powers, Marcoleta said it should not be abused by Hontiveros for “self-serving fishing expeditions.”