National Task Force (NTF) on Covid-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. assured anew that there are no irregularities in the procurement of some PHP20 billion worth of personal protective equipment (PPE) sets and other medical supplies.
Galvez, also the presidential peace adviser, reported that the task force and the procurement service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) are working together to secure the highest quality of PPE sets for the country’s pandemic response.
“The procurement process of the DOH has been very clean,” he said during the public address of President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night.
Galvez clarified that DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III has no involvement in the procurement process because the NTF and PS-DBM were responsible for the procurement of PPE gears and other medical supplies.
“So I really vouch sa ano sir na si Secretary Duque, sir, has nothing to do with the ano talaga—procurement (I really vouch for Secretary Duque that he has nothing to do with the procurement),” Galvez told the President.
The procurement of some PHP20 billion worth of PPE covers around 11 million pieces of complete sets of Level 4 medical-grade protective gear which include a PPE suit, military-grade goggles, a face mask, and shoe and headcovers.
“We assure the public that the administration will be clean,” Galvez said.
He added that the initial batches of PPE bought abroad are gradually arriving.
The procurement of the high-quality PPE, he said, has helped decrease the number of fatalities among healthcare workers.
“Noon dati sir ang daming namamatay na mga doktor. Mula po noong bumili tayo ng PPE ay talagang isa o dalawa na lang po ‘yung nagiging fatal casualty po. (Before, many doctors were dying. But since we bought these PPE sets, the number decreased to one or two fatalities),” Galvez told Durterte.
Testing kits, laboratories
Meanwhile, Galvez also reported that the government has already procured more or less 10 million test kits from initial projection to secure about 3 million testing kits for the planned expanded testing.
“Sa ngayon po sir because of our prudent procurement, more or less 10 million po na test kits po sir ang nabili po sir natin (So far, because of our prudent procurement, more or less 10 million test kits have already been bought),” he said.
He said the country’s testing capacity and the number of testing laboratories are also increasing.
Galvez noted that the country already has 63 accredited testing laboratories which are composed of 46 RT-PCR laboratories and 16 GeneXpert laboratories nationwide.
Some 27 testing laboratories are located in Luzon, seven in the Visayas, while nine are located in Mindanao.
He added that all 17 regions have at least one Covid-19 testing laboratory except for Caraga.
“Mayroon po silang tatlo na laboratory na minamadali po natin at humihingi po ako ng GeneXpert sa DOH para mabigyan po ang Caraga Region (they have three laboratories in there, we are fast-tracking the accreditation, and we already requested a GeneXpert from DOH to provide for Caraga Region),” he said.
While the country is increasing its testing capacity, Galvez said, it is also strengthening contact tracing at the same time.
On the other hand, Galvez expressed his full support to Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to oversee the government’s health measures against the coronavirus pandemic in Cebu City. (PNA)