House panel invites former DBM exec in ’overpriced’ face masks, face shields

August 21, 2021 Jester P. Manalastas 69 views

THE controversial former undersecretary of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), who is allegedly behind the overpriced facemask and face shield, will be invited to the next hearing of the House of Representatives.

The House Committee on Public Accounts will conduct an inquiry into the alleged mishandling of COVID-19 response funds which the Commission on Audit (COA) flagged in the audit report for the Department of Health (DoH).

During Friday’s hearing, chairman of the committee Probinsiyano Ako Party-list Rep. Bonito Singson Jr. directed the committee secretary to send invitations to former Usec. Christopher Lao.

Lao once headed the DBM-procurement service when over P41.4 billion were transferred to the department for the procurement of some medical supplies.

Singson said the issue must be answered by Lao because it is a substantial amount.

Lao was with DBM-PS from 2020 until June this year.

In a related story, ACT-CIS Party-list Rep. Rowena Nina Taduran calls on the government to solve the unreleased special risk allowance of health care workers, particularly nurses in private hospitals, who are assigned to the Covid wards.

Taduran said it is unacceptable that almost two years into the pandemic, these nurses have not received any benefits under the enacted Bayanihan Law, the government’s financial response to the Covid 19 situation.

She said the government can utilize the unused funds of Bayanihan Act 2 worth P18 billion through the special powers granted to the President or via an extension of the said legislation.

“Ang mga nurses ang nasa harapan ng laban sa pandemya. Sa katunayan, sila ang madalas na personal na kasama ng pasyenteng may Covid. Ilang nurses na rin ang nabalitaan nating nagka-Covid, lumubha ang kalagayan at ang iba pa nga ay namatay. Bakit hindi maibigay sa kanila ang kakarampot na nga lang na proteksyon sa pamamagitan ng special risk allowance?,” Taduran said.

The solon said that it is unfair that public hospital nurses have been given the said allowance but the private hospital nurses were left to fend for themselves.

The special risk allowance of each nurse is at P5, 000 per month, and is pro-rated depending on the number of days a health care worker physically reports for work in a month, as certified by their heads.