Senators on Tuesday grilled Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on the alleged double payment made for medical supplies after P42 billion in funds were transferred by the Department of Health to the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management.
After the PS-DBM, then under Usec. Christopher Lao bought face shields on behalf of the DOH, the latter then purchased the same face shields from the Budget office, senators speculated.
“Did the PS-DBM sell to DOH the same face shields, which the agency already paid for?" asked Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, Senator Panfilo, and Senate President Vicente Sotto III.
During the fourth Senate Blue Ribbon committee hearing in the DOH's alleged misuse of COVID-19 pandemic response funds, the senators pressed Duque to answer this question, but the health chief only“committed to look into it and sought for a little more time to verify this.”
"When you moved P42 billion to PS-DBM, did you move it so they can purchase medical supplies and equipment for you, which are now common-use supplies and equipment?” Drilon questioned Duque.
“Or did you transfer the P42 billion so PS-DBM can build an inventory from where public hospitals can get their supplies?” the opposition senator asked.
He said the funds from DOH “were used to buy these items. They bought these items again with very large profits," said Drilon.
Lacson also demanded from Duque if there was any truth about the supposed double payment.
"You shelled out money to buy the items, then you buy those using your own money again?” said Lacson.
Sotto inquired from Duque on the need for the PS-DBM to sell to the DOH regional offices the face shields they bought -- from the money that came from the health department.
"The DOH Regional Offices did not want to buy them because they were too pricey," said Sotto.