NOTE: THIS STORY WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE BOHOL CHRONICLE’S SUNDAY PRINT EDITION.
The prices of medical supplies procured for Capitol’s response to the COVID-19 last year exceeded the price ceiling by more than P5 million.
The Commission on Audit COA said its audit report for Bohol found that the provincial government has exceeded the price ceiling by P5,855,610.
“Certain medical supplies of COVID-19 were procured and paid for at prices exceeding the price ceiling contained in the Department of Health (DOH) price freeze issuances as management weighed urgently and availability over price considerations resulting in loss of funds totaling P5,855,610,” COA said.
For this, COA issued an Audit Observation Memorandum (AOM) No. 2021-014 dated March 5, 2021.
BASIS FOR FLAGGING
COA cited as basis of its findings over medical supplies procurement the DOH’s Price Freeze order No. 2014-0001 dated January 8, 2014, providing guidelines on price freeze of medicines during disaster and emergencies pursuant to Republic Act No. 7581, known as The Price Act.
COA found that suppliers, Panpispo Technologies, Inc. (PTI) and Dextel Trading (DT) incurred an excess of P5,748,000 and P101,610, respectively.
Items procured from PTI by Capitol are the following: KN95 face mask for 8000 items priced at P169.50 apiece, but the DOH allowable price tag is P152 or an overprice of P140,000; 2,000 Safety goggles for eye protection at P384/purchase request, but DOH price is P180 apiece resulted to P408,000 excess and 10,000 Hazmat disposable protective clothing at P1,700 but DOH price is only at P1,200 apiece resulted to P5,200,000 excess.
Items for COVID-19 procured from Dextel Trading’s are the following: 200 face masks 3-ply earloop 50’s at P1,700 for PR and P1,695 for PO, but DOH price is at P1,400 apiece that resulted to P59,000 excess; 300 surgical face masks at P250 apiece but DOH price tag is P162, resulted to P27,900 excess; 500 alcohol 70% isopropyl at P120 but DOH price is at P99.75, resulted to 7,625 overprice; 40 caps headgear at P150 for PR but DOH price is P125 resulted to P800.00 excess; and three (3) thermal scanner priced at P7,500 apiece for PR, but DOH is at P3,400 that resulted to P12,285, COA said.
“This situation led PGBh (Bohol provincial government) to overpay for the medical supplies it procured relative to what can be legally demanded from it under the circumstances. Consequently, it incurred loss of funds totaling P5,855,610,” COA said.
COA said that the suppliers —- PTI and DT —- based their prices “only on the canvass from suppliers.”
It said that the province procured the supplies “without consideration of the prices since, at the height of the pandemic, finding other suppliers was difficult and may delay the procurement.”
PRICE FREEZE IGNORED?
The provincial government thru its management as mentioned by COA findings, even if it is aware and guided of the price freeze, it had to resort to purchase from those suppliers since the said supplies are not available locally.
COA stressed that “all public and private drug retail outlets, including hospital pharmacies nationwide, shall implement the price freeze or the maximum ceiling price set by DOH for essential medicines during the emergency upon declaration of a state of emergency by the President,” pursuant to section V.1 of the said law.
COA has recommended for the Provincial Legal Office (PLO) to conduct an investigation for the “non-compliance of the suppliers to the price freeze ordered by DOH and avail of the legal remedies provided for under R.A. 7581 and other pertinent DOH issuances, as may be necessary.”
The COA audit report was forwarded to the provincial government after the transmittal letter dated June 28,2021 to Gov. Arthur C. Yap from COA regional director Marilou Rizarri.
COA is doing audit duty on government instrumentalities and local government units based on Article IV-D of the Philippine Constitution and Presidential Decree 1445, known as the Auditing Code of the Philippines. (rvo)