Former Budget Undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao broke the silence on the alleged purchase of face masks, face shields, and other personal protective equipment or PPE under the office he previously headed.
Lao was then in charge of the Procurement Service Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) office, which handled the P40 billion fund of the Department of Health (DOH).
Earlier, the DOH explained that they sought the help of the DBM in purchasing some supplies for the pandemic, such as face masks and face shields.
“PS-DBM has a surplus of these PPEs in their online store… Nag-request kami for them to procure for us,” said DOH Undersecretary Carol Taiño.
But some senators commented that there was no memorandum of agreement signed by the two agencies, and the materials purchased seemed to be overpriced because the face masks purchased cost P27 per piece while the cost of each face shield would reach P122.
But Lloyd Christopher Lao insisted its prices were appropriate at that time.
Ex-DBM usec Lloyd Christopher Lao breaks silence
“Actually, when you look at it, mahal ang P27 [ngayon], yes, mahal ‘yan. But during that time, that was one of the cheapest, because face masks during that time was around P30 to P40,” he said.
Lao made sure that all the rules in the purchase of goods were followed.
As the Chamber’s investigation continued, it emerged that the government was still saving due to the transfer of about P40 billion by the DOH to PS-DBM, which bought equipment against COVID-19.
It also turned out that the PS-DBM denied the DOH’s request that they also buy the vaccine.
“We don’t have the capability to handle… We have limitations in terms of manpower, storage requirement, plus technical knowhow. No funds were transferred to PS-DBM with regards to vaccine procurement. We did not procure a single vaccine,” said Jasonmer Uayan, an official of PS-DBM.
Lloyd Christopher Lao said he was ready to face any investigation, but he also withdrew because the issue seemed to be politicized.