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DOH: Procurement Of Ambulances Aboveboard

DOH: Procurement Of Ambulances Aboveboard
Ambulances line up on the driveway of the Quezon City General Hospital on Sept. 4, 2021 as they wait for the patients they transport to have a slot in the medical facility for treatment of COVID-19. Photo by Boy Santos, The Philippine STAR

The procurement of ambulances being questioned by Sen. Panfilo Lacson for being overpriced is aboveboard, the Department of Health (DOH) said on Saturday, Sept. 4.

According to DOH, the ambulances were “compliant with the licensing standards set forth in” Administrative Order No. 2018-0001.

The DOH also said the procurement had “undergone competitive bidding to get the lowest price possible.”

“We will be able to shed light on the issue once we see the specific documents. All I can say is our operating units made the procurement in accordance with law,” DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III said.

The agency maintained the procured ambulances are the type fitted with basic life support (BLS) equipment such as defibrillators, laryngoscope with three blade sizes, suction machines, immobilization devices and communication equipment as prescribed under the licensing standards set forth in AO 2018-0001.

Also included in the procured ambulance are usual vehicle insurance, Land Transportation Office registration and orientation and training of end-users on the use and care of the ambulance and equipment.

The DOH added it “remains true to its commitment of upholding transparency in its transactions and all of the relevant documents of the procurement are made public on its website.”

Earlier, Lacson alleged that each of the procured ambulance was overpriced by P1 million.

NACC formed

Meanwhile, the Duterte administration has formed the National Anti-Corruption Coordinating Council (NACC) to hasten the detection of irregularities in all levels of government amid investigations into the reported mishandling of COVID-19 funds,

Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) Chairman Greco Belgica said Project Kasangga: Aksyon Kontra Korapsyon, which was launched on Friday, Sept. 3, creates anti-corruption coordinating councils (ACCC) within government offices across the country.

The council will be composed of the PACC and 49 other government agencies.

President Duterte will serve as chairman of the council, while Belgica will sit as vice chairman.

Belgica described the Project Kasangga as a “holistic” way of stamping out corruption since ACCC would be involved in the reporting, validation, and investigation on anomalous transactions.

Belgica likened the ACCC to the government’s approach in its anti-illegal drug and anti-insurgency campaigns by creating presence at the barangay level.

“The signing of Project Kasangga seals the President’s firm commitment to really fight corruption the best that he can by institutionalizing anti-corruption committees in all levels of government. We have not seen this in any government,” Belgica said.

“Each office, down to the barangays (villages), there's PACC to fight corruption,” he added.

Belgica noted the ACCC’s work will complement the work of the Commission on Audit (COA) and the Department of Justice (DOJ)-led Task Force against Corruption, who have investigative functions.

"It will be complementary because the DOJ-led task force is more investigative than what we are doing today which is preventive as well as educative," Belgica said.

Duterte, in a taped message, expressed his support to the campaign, saying it aims to restore Filipinos’ trust and faith in the government.

“Our fight against corruption will allow us to serve the public with utmost excellence and integrity as well as regain the trust and faith of our people in our institutions,” the President said.

“Let us work together to fully realize our dream of a corruption-free Philippines,” he added.

The creation of the anti-corruption council came a day after Duterte lashed out at senators, particularly Sen. Richard Gordon, for scrutinizing pandemic funds spending.

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, which is chaired by Gordon, is investigating the government’s multi-billion peso deal to alleged overpriced personal protective equipment and other medical supplies from a company linked to Duterte’s former economic adviser.

Duterte on Thursday, Sept. 2, denied that the masks and face shields were overpriced and called on the senators to stop their investigations as these “derail” the government’s pandemic response.

“All of you in the Senate, do not investigate programs which are ongoing. You will derail it, you will delay it by your incessant penchant for investigating government offices,” the President said.

Duterte earlier ordered agencies to ignore COA reports and has asked state auditors to refrain from publishing initial findings that “condemn” departments and officials and create impressions that they are corrupt.

He also said he would “audit” all government agencies should he win the vice presidency in the May 2022 elections.