Lacson flags 'overpriced' items in DOH-procured ambulances

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 20) — Senator Panfilo Lacson on Wednesday bared more questionable expenses allegedly made by the Department of Health (DOH).

During the resumption of the Senate Finance Committee hearing on the DOH's proposed 2022 budget, Lacson listed "overpriced" items inside the department's ambulances, including automated external defibrillators (AEDs), mobile phones, and dashboard cameras.

Last month, Lacson alleged the ambulances themselves are overpriced by ₱1 million per unit.

"Inisa-isa namin 'yung mga equipment pati yung costs," Lacson said. "Ang laki ng discrepancy."

[Translation: We checked the equipment and the costs one by one. There's a huge discrepancy.]

For one, he said the DOH bought two mobile phones with sim cards for a total of ₱30,000 - nearly four times the ₱7,998 spent by local governments for the exact same items.

He added the department procured dashboard cameras for ₱15,000 each when the retail price was only at ₱4,500. Stretchers were also supposedly overpriced at ₱45,000 per unit from ₱23,800.

AEDs, meanwhile, were listed by the DOH to have cost ₱165,000 each, but Lacson said these only retail for ₱96,500.

"These are the things we want explained by the department para hindi na maulit [so these do not happen again]," Lacson said.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque said he has already asked his staff to look into these possible cases of overpricing.

"Ito po ay pinaumipasahan ko na [I already asked that they begin probing this]," he said. "Rest assured that we will have this investigated, kasi nga [because] these are public funds."