By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Government procurement personnel have been ordered to sign
inspection documents for overpriced personal protective equipment
(PPEs) and other medical supplies bought from China even before the
items were delivered or inspected.
This was revealed on Monday’s Senate blue ribbon committee hearing on
the Covid-19 budget utilization of the Department of Health (DoH)
during Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan’s turn to question the
“Some inspection reports were signed even if the delivered goods were
not actually inspected,” Pangilinan said, noting that the goods were
still in China when the reports were signed.
Jorge Mendoza, whose contract as Department of Budget and Management
Procurement Service (DBM-PS) inspection chief was not renewed,
revealed that he remembers two instances when documents were signed as
guarantee to Chinese suppliers.
“Wala pang delivery but we were advised or instructed to prepare the
inspection documents, considering nga po na it will be an attachment
to assure the China suppliers na sila ay mababayaran once the shipment
or yung PPEs will arrive sa Pilipinas,” Mendoza told the Senate
“There was this instance…during pandemic times, there was no…supply of
PPEs. So we [had] to resort to China,” Mendoza said.
When Pangilinan asked if the delivery happened only after payment has
been posted to the Chinese suppliers, Mendoza replied yes and admitted
that this is not a normal procedure for DBM-PS.
When the senator asked Mervin Tanquintic, of DBM-PS, if he also signed
inspection reports without seeing the items, the latter also replied
yes, saying that they were instructed by “management” to do this.
Asked by Pangilinan if it was former DBM-PS chief Christopher Lao who
told them to sign the reports, Tanquintic said no.
The number and price of PPEs covered in these two instances have not
yet been disclosed.
Philippine law requires an actual inspection before the signing of
inspection documents and before the PPEs can be delivered and paid
Mendoza identified former DBM-PS accounting Chief Raul Catalan as the
one who asked him and fellow inspectors to sign the papers. “The one
who advised me to prepare or to sign the inspection report is yung sa
finance considering they will be the one to pay,” he said.
Pangilinan asked the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to invite Catalan to
shed light on the premature singing of inspection reports for
The senator said he also wants to find out why the work contracts of
DBM-PS personnel, including that of Mendoza, who has been in
government service for 31 years, have not been renewed. “I want to
know how many were removed or were not renewed because we are
investigating wrongdoing here. So we want to know if this is part of
an effort to…keep it under wraps, remove people who might know
something,” he said.
Earlier, Pangilinan also took note of Pharmally’s delivery on the same
day that the government posted the Request for Quotation shortly after
Pharmally’s Lincoln Ong testified that his company was able to deliver
500,000 face masks on March 25, the same day Pharmally received the
request from DBM-PS.
Ong said the PPEs did not undergo customary testing procedures during
the early days of the pandemic due to the unavailability of
government-accredited testing centers and lack of flights to access
testing centers abroad.
The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee is currently investigating the
procurement of “overpriced” PPEs, face masks, and shields made by
DBM-PS on behalf of the Department of Health last year. (ai/mtvn)