“I agree with (Ombudsman Samuel) Martires that the government must exert effort to convey (to the public), first of all, that it spends (the people’s) money appropriately,” Vice President Leni Robredo said in her weekly program over dzXL.
‘The 2019 Plague” Day 206
MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo yesterday backed the decision of the Office of the Ombudsman to look into alleged irregularities in the handling of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic in the country.
“I agree with (Ombudsman Samuel) Martires that the government must exert effort to convey (to the public), first of all, that it spends (the people’s) money appropriately,” Robredo said in her weekly program over dzXL.
On Friday, the Office of the Ombudsman ordered the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to submit documents related to its investigation on the alleged irregularities in the government’s response to pandemic.
The Ombudsman said it will investigate the “confusing and delayed reporting” of coronavirus cases and deaths and the delayed procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other medical gear necessary for the protection of healthcare workers, among others.
Some senators have questioned the alleged overpriced PPE and COVID-19 test kits procured by the DOH.
In an interview with CNN Philippines last week, Martires said early in March his office started a “discreet” probe of the DOH’s treatment of the COVID-19 test kits developed by the University of the Philippines – National Institutes of Health.
“We were wondering why the DOH was giving them the cold shoulder, it was as if it was politicized,” he said.
The Vice President said the Ombudsman’s probe would ensure the continued trust of the people in the government.
“I understand the position of Ombudsman Martires that in the time of the pandemic, it is very important to communicate to the people that they can trust their government,” Robredo said.
She noted the DOH’s lack of support for local scientists, who developed the low-cost test kits.
“It’s unfortunate that UP didn’t get much support because, first of all, the test kits are not just cheap but were also developed by local scientists,” Robredo said.
The Office of the Vice President in April procured P14 million worth of the test kits produced by Marikina City-based company, Manila HealthTek. These were distributed to the San Lazaro Hospital in Manila; Lung Center of the Philippines and V. Luna Hospital in Quezon City; and the Bicol Regional Diagnostic and Reference Laboratory.