TO be sure, the government must answer point by point the politicking senators’ allegations of corruption at the Health and Budget departments.
This is especially so as its quite obvious that whether these are true or not, these are obviously part of an all-out campaign recently launched by the Yellows and their newfound allies (like Senators Richard “Dick” Gordon and Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, I would think) to throw dirt at President Rodrigo Duterte to prevent a Duterte 2.0 administration very likely 10 months from now.
It is a despicable campaign: we’re in the middle of the battle against Covid-19, yet the likes of Gordon and Franklin Drilon want to grill the officials – the Department of Health – leading our fight.
It’s not the time to do that, dear senators, not now. The documents won’t be lost and those people you are accusing are certainly not the type to flee overseas as Lacson did in 2010 just before an arrest warrant was issued against him.
“Here he goes again,” was my knee-jerk reaction to Drilon’s claim of overpricing in the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) by the Health department. This senator has thrown so many duds against this administration, his name really must be Sen. Frank “Dud” Drilon.
Last December, he wasted a lot of my time when I had to research the validity of his claim that the Duterte administration had a “P33 billion stash of funds squirreled away in an obscure agency.” It turned out that the P33 billion were funds by various government agencies transmitted to the Philippine International Trading Corp. (PITC) for it to order the materials for these agencies. The PITC was set up in 1977 to have a state-owned firm undertake a government procurement to reduce corruption and make procurement more efficient. The opposition’s newsletter, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, of course, bannered Drilon’s dud for several days. Did Drilon apologize for his dud? Certainly not.
Drilon’s recent claims of the Health department buying overpriced PPE was particularly irritating, not only since his usual partner-in-duds Risa Hontiveros had already aired similar accusations in September 2020, and the Budget department virtually shoved papers in Hontiveros’ face that proved she was concocting lies.
I found Drilon’s claim particularly annoying since I know that he knows he’s lying. I know this because during the early months of the pandemic, many who could afford it – and I’m sure Drilon could – bought PPEs, masks and face shields at prices considered atrocious today.
The reason is at that time, masks and shields were practically our only defense against Covid-19 even as its supply had become scarce. There was even a proposal at that time for such PPEs to be sold only to frontline health workers as even so many of them in 2020 couldn’t get enough that they washed used masks with some even micro-waving them to decontaminate them. One CNN Philippines report by one Xyza Cruz Bacani in April 2020 had a picture of such masks on the clothesline hanging to dry with the Philippine-bashing headline (for a false news article though): “Philippines sending out its nurses to the frontline unprotected.”
I distinctly remember the situation then since I myself was convinced by a relative that masks would become scarce that he sold me a box of 50 masks at P5,000 (or P100 per piece) and face shields at P150 each. These masks are now just P10 per piece and shields at P30 (last time I bought them at a drugstore).
Drilon and his gang refuse to acknowledge that they know how difficult it was to procure PPEs last year and prices were hitting the roof. These unscrupulous Yellows obviously think that that kind of lie will be damaging to the administration: What worse kind of corruption that exploits a health crisis?
Perhaps the Yellows were thinking that what the previous administration did, this government, of course, also did as officials always will be officials.
However, Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. the other day released a copy of a purchase order from the office of then-health secretary Janette Garin dated Sept. 28, 2015 for the same goggles at P3,500 each and another dated June 23, 2016 – or just seven days before she and the Aquino administration stepped down from office – for P3,864 each.
The Health department under Francisco Duque 3rd ordered similar equipment in May 2020, four years later and at the height of the pandemic at P1,910, or 51-percent less.
Stop already, Mr. Senators.
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