DoH asked for a fresh probe into bidding of H1N1 equipment

Posted at 07/04/10 5:29 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) has asked Health Secretary Enrique Ona to penalize those behind the alleged anomalous purchase of flu-testing machines.

In a press release, former Senator Ernesto Herrera said “we definitely welcome Secretary Ona's appointment. We consider him highly trustworthy. We are thus hopeful he will spare no effort in getting to the bottom of the irregularity.” Herrera is now secretary-general of the TUCP.

The group, which has been pushing for improved protection for workers, found irregularities over the government’s move to purchase laboratory machines from an alleged ineligible bidder.

The Department of Health procured last year 3 units from Roche Philippines, Inc. The machines will be used for laboratory purposes, in particular to check for the A (H1N1) virus.

TUCP said Roche, owned by Swiss nationals, offered to supply the machines at a price nearly 25% costlier than the lowest bidder.

Herrera said “we are counting on Secretary Ona to order a fresh and full-dress investigation, and to take corrective measures.”

The DoH, then under Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, ordered an inquiry into the matter but was unable to produce any evidence of irregularities.

“It is always difficult for the agency head to acknowledge that wrongdoing may have transpired during his watch,” Herrera said.

A fresh investigation into the matter will be in line with President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III’s fight against corruption, he said.