By RJ Espartinez

Senator Grace Poe delivering her privileged speech 

Sen. Grace Poe on Tuesday asked why the Department of Health (DOH) spent P1,800 for each set of personal protective equipment (PPE) when the market value is between P400 and P1,000 each.

The senator said the DOH could have saved at least P800 million if the agency bought the PPEs at a much cheaper price but of the same quality. The DOH, Poe said, would only spend about P400 million to P1 billion compared with P1.8 billion that the health department spent in purchasing the PPEs.

“Confronting an extraordinary public health crisis requires prompt response but in doing so, let us not forget the need for the judicious use of fund releases,” said the senator, who strongly supported for the protection and just compensation of medical workers and frontliners in the newly implemented “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act”.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told reporters the price difference was because of varying types of PPEs sold in the market.

The DOH bought the most complete set, composed of eight items: surgical gown, surgical mask, N95 mask, gloves, coveralls, head cover, shoe cover, and goggles, she said.

One million sets of PPE will be delivered soon, to be allocated to both public and private hospitals taking care of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) patients and people under investigation and under monitoring, officials said. The remaining budget for PPEs is down at P225 million.

Poe also requested the DOH to cut the bureaucratic bottleneck and red tape in the distribution of PPEs and other essential medical equipment to hospitals.

“More than two weeks into the enhanced quarantine, swift action and massive testing will help accelerate collaborative efforts to contain the pandemic, a valuable lesson we could learn from our Asian counterparts who have become successful in slowing down the spread of the disease,” Poe said.


Demanding a sense of urgency, Poe anticipated a better fast and quick process from DOH in distributing donated PPEs to hospitals and frontliners amidst the uncontrollable spike of cases every day.

“Nagpapasalamat tayo at nagdadatingan na ang mga kagamitang mahalaga sa pagsugpo ng epidemiyang ito kaya sana ay maipamahagi ito sa mga ospital at ating mga health frontliners sa lalong madaling panahon,” said Poe.

“Subalit tulad ng pahayag ng Pangulo, hindi ito panahon ng pagsasamantala, kaya’t nananawagan tayo sa DOH na kung maaari ay iprayoridad ang pakikipag-ugnayan sa mga local manufacturers upang mas makakuha ng murang PPE,” she added.

In October last year, Presidential Anti Corruption Commission chairperson Dante Jimenez named the DOH as the most corrupt agency in the Philippines based on the number of complaints filed against its officials and personnel.

He said billions of pesos were wasted because of the rampant corruption in these agencies from 2013 to 2016.

Jimenez added that complaints received by the Anti-Corruption commission were mostly against officials and personnel of the DoH and its attached agencies such as the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), Food and Drugs Administration and Barangay Health Unit.  (RJ Espartinez)