Pangilinan questions why not-up-to-spec RT-PCR kits accepted

Pangilinan: State subsidies for parties needed to deter ‘balimbing’ politicians

Senator Francis Pangilian on Friday questioned why certain RT-PCR kits were accepted by the Procurement Service-Department Budget and Management (PS-DBM) even though the specifications set by the Department of Health (DOH) were not met.

During the resumption of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee’s inquiry into the government’s purchase of COVID-19 supplies in 2020, Pangilinan said that among required kit specifications was that these should have a shelf life of 24 to 36 months.

However, the delivered kits would expire in just six months.

“Ang tanong ko dito is lumalabas kasi doon sa specs ng DBM-PS, eh ang requirement ay dapat, ang shelf life upon delivery, the following should be complied with. The shelf life for the BGI real-time RT-PCR is 24 to 36 months from the date of delivery,” Pangilinan said.

(My concern is that the shelf life of these test kits should be 24 to 36 months from the date of delivery.)

“Pero ‘yung inspection reports, nakalagay ay ang expiry dates noong mga dineliver ay anim na buwan lang. Ito, this is P600 million, manufacturing date dito sa nakapulang box, 2020-04-05, expiry, 2020-10, so that’s only six months. Bakit doon sa specs 24 to 36 months ang shelf life, pero dito sa inspection remarks, six months lang expired na,” he said.

(But in the inspection reports, it was indicated that the expiry date of the items delivered was just six months. This was worth P600 million, the manufacturing date was 2020-04-05, expiry 2020-10, so that’s only six months. Why is it that the specs require a 24 to 36-month shelf life, but here in the inspection remarks, it says that six months and it’s expired.)

Pangilinan pointed out that this was a huge procurement, which was more or less P5 billion, noting that the items should have been rejected for not meeting the required specifications.

“Obviously, hindi sumunod sa specs. So bakit tinanggap kung hindi sumunod sa specs? Hindi ito maliit na pera, P5 billion ‘to,” Pangilinan said.

(The specs were not followed. Why were the kits accepted? This was a huge amount of money. This was P5 billion.)

“In other words, kahit hindi sumunod sa specs, dineliver, hindi ninyo nireject? Tinanggap pa rin? Importante ito kasi pag maaga na ang expiry date dapat mas mura,” he added.

(In other words, even if the specs were not followed, you didn’t reject it? you still accepted it? This is important because usually if it’s near the expiration date, the items must be cheaper.)

Former PS-DBM official Mervin Tanquintic, who was among the signatories of the documents in this purchase of test kits, said, “It was determined that kits would be consumed prior to the expiration date.”

Tanquintic, however, admitted that these should have been rejected.

The former DBM official noted that the items were acceptable to the Department of Health’s inspection team at that time.

In response, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III explained that there was a need for test kits during that period.

“Doon po sa inyong katanungan bakit tinanggap kahit hindi siya within the 24 to 36 months, at that time kasi very acute ‘yung need for testing kits, hindi rin naman namin alam sa DOH na halos lahat pala ng testing kits na ‘to talagang six months lang ang kanilang expiry period,” Duque said.

(As for your query why we accepted the kits, there was an acute need during that time and we were unaware that all testing kits had a shelf life of just six months.)

The test kits were purchased around April to May of last year and they were delivered around September, Pangilinan said.

Senators have been investigating the purchase of COVID-19 supplies last year, during which Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation bagged more than P8 billion in government contracts for the said procurement of personal protective equipment (PPEs), which were alleged to be overpriced. — DVM, GMA News

This article Pangilinan questions why not-up-to-spec RT-PCR kits accepted was originally published in GMA News Online.

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