Govt buying anti-Covid face masks at retail price is overpricing: Pangilinan

September 19, 2021

THE Philippine government has admitted to buying face masks based on suggested retail price (SRP), not wholesale price, and that is overpricing, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said Sunday.

SRP is the price at which products are sold to consumers.

At the seventh Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Hearing on the Covid-19 budget utilization of the Department of Health (DOH) last Friday, September 17, Secretary Francisco Duque said it used the SRP as basis for quotation and approval of wholesale prices for the purchase of medical supplies.

“Lahat alam na ang wholesale price ay di hamak na mas mura kaysa sa retail. Bagsak presyo sa bultuhan, hindi sa tingi (Everyone knows that wholesale price is much lower than retail price. Price drops for bulk purchase, not in per piece),” Pangilinan said.

In a DOH memorandum dated March 2020, the DOH used the Department of Trade and Industry’s SRP of P28 as reference price for each unit of surgical mask.

Reference price refers to the price ceiling with which the government is willing to purchase a product.

Pangilinan notes that the suppliers of Department of Budget and Management-Procurement Service (DBM-PS) provided the government a quotation of 4 million masks at P22 each in response to the DOH’s price ceiling of P28.

“Bakit nakabase ang pagbili ng DBM-PS sa SRP e bumibili nga ito ng milyon-milyong piraso ng face mask? (Why did the DBM-PS base the prices on SRP when they were millions of pieces of face masks),” he asked.

At the same hearing, Minority Leader Senator Frank Drilon supported Pangilinan’s assertion that there was overpricing of face masks.

Pangilinan questioned Duque’s statement that supply was scarce noting that Pharmally was able to deliver 2 million in advance of the purchase orders and on the same day of the quotation request.

“The mantra is, dahil rushed etc., nagkakandarapa. Pero nakakapagtaka rin, I hope you don’t mind, na kung talagang gipit, bakit ang bilis mag-deliver? Advance pa. 2 million. ‘Di ba pagka nagkakagipitan dapat medyo mahirap?” he said during the hearing.

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing will resume on Tuesday, September 21.