By Carlos Manuel Eusoya

The Commission on Audit (COA) flagged the personal protective equipment (PPE) purchased by the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) as the medical equipment cannot "assure safety."

Photo Courtesy of Philippine News Agency/DBM

Citing a report from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), COA explained that a Certificate of Medical Device Notification is needed prior to purchasing or manufacturing medical products and PPEs.

The absence of this certification means that the P1.39-billion worth of purchased PPE cannot be "authorized for sale or public use.”

"[PS-DBM] cannot assure its client-agencies of the safety of the personal protective equipment, especially to the medical staff users who are directly exposed to the COVID-19 virus during this pandemic," COA added in its report.

The payments for PS-DBM's PPE purchase were made in seven separate contracts, six of which have already been fully paid.

In their defense, PS-DBM explained that their failure to obtain a certification was due to the fact that the pandemic was fast-paced, and the agency needed to "act with haste".

"It is also important to consider that there was a need to immediately procure the medical supplies and equipment. The PS, in order to address such a need, acted with haste in procuring said items," PS-DBM explained.

PS-DBM, an agency created in 1978 for expediting purchases of government equipment and resources, has already been a prior subject of scrutiny due to the agency's reportedly "anomalous" contracts and dealings during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Edited by Andreah Dianne Cartagena