DOH Calabarzon denies overpricing in procured ambulances, components

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 25) — The regional office of the Department of Health in Calabarzon denied overpricing allegation in the purchase of ambulances and their components.

In a letter to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, Center for Health Development-Calabarzon director Eduardo Janairo said the office followed requirements under the procurement law and was not flagged by the Commission on Audit.

“The Bids and Awards Committee of this Office reviewed all the submitted bid documents taking into consideration with due diligence the legal, technical and financial capabilities of all participating bidders before declaring the lowest calculated bid,” said Janairo.

Janairo said the 98 ambulances were bid as a package and not separately.

The winning bid for each ambulance with 30 components was at ₱2.298 million, lower than the ₱2.5-million budget.

Janairo said the amounts presented by Senator Panfilo Lacson during a hearing showing the supposed overpricing of components of the ambulances were taken from the office's 2019 Land Ambulance Market Study.

There is no amount specified for each component, he said, since the ambulances and components were bid as a package.

Janairo said the office recently asked for the price for each component from the winning bidder to supposedly check the veracity of Lacson’s presentation:

Janairo admitted Lacson’s allegation that some ambulances were delivered to local government units with only 21 of 30 components.

He added they intended to deliver ambulances with complete accessories. However, a list of documentary requirements needs to be submitted including the training certificates of drivers, nurses, and doctors who will use the ambulance.

Janairo also said the office released the ambulances with incomplete accessories due to the appeal of local government units and lawmakers for use in COVID-19 response.

"Due to the clamor and appeal of the Local Chief Executives and Congressmen to immediately release the ambulances for their COVID-19 response, this Office was compelled to turn over the ambulance and withhold temporarily specific equipment that requires training like Automatic External Defibrillator because this is a skill training,” he explained. “This information was explained thoroughly to all recipients during the turn-over ceremony.”

Upon completion of training requirements, CHD-Calabarzon said it released the remaining components to the LGUs.

Janairo said all LGUs already received the complete ambulance package.

“As of this writing, this Office has not received any complaints and reported malfunction of devices and ambulance itself. The Commission on Audit recognizes the full delivery of said ambulance including its equipment as there was no findings relative thereto,” he said.

Senator Lacson alleged that all 841 ambulances bought by the Health department since 2019 were overpriced by ₱1 million each. As a result, he said, the government lost ₱ 841-million from these procurements.