President Rodrigo Duterte is taking some of the blame for the Department of Health’s purchases of overpriced COVID-19 testing machines and other protective gear.
Duterte made the admission Monday night amid a Politko report that Secretary Francisco Duque III and a powerful politiko centralized COVID-related purchases through Omnibus Bio-Medical Systems Inc. owned by Van William Co and wife Emily.
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“I remember distinctly very well that noong napag-usapan ‘yung P200 billion na ibibigay ng Congress, sinabi ko ‘do not fuck up with this pera because it’s really a blood money needed to keep the nation alive. I would listen to Secretary Duque,” said Duterte in a Monday night briefing.
“But I gave him the instruction and I admit it in public now, Sabi ko sa kanya, ‘Do everything you can’. Sabi niya, ‘There’s so many proposition. I do not care. If it’s not cheap, if it is expensive, go — just go ahead and do something about it kasi ipit na tayo dito.’ I take full responsibility, na ang utos ko dalian mo. Wala akong pakialam kung saan ka magkuha, magnakaw ka and I remember saying it. I do not care whether you go and steal, borrow or kill a person to get what — what needs to be done,” he added.
Duterte confronted Duque about reports that he directed government and private buyers of COVID to purchase COVID machines from local distributor Omnibus which sold it at P4 million each or more than double the P1.5 million paid by the private-led Project ARK which procured it directly from the Chinese manufacturer, Sansure Biotech.
Duque denied knowing the Cos and Duterte was quick to believe his Secretary who has been the subject of resignation calls.
“Let’s look at it on what it is legally sans the maybe ‘yung mga suspicion whether it is [corrupt]. After all, it’s not easy to you know charge a person. If the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) has the probable cause, then go ahead. But I still believe in the what accrues to government people working, the presumption of regularity in the performance of their duties,” said Duterte.
“What I’m interested to know is that is there graft and corruption there? Was dirty money — changed hands? Kaya ‘yan talagang — pagka ‘yan na, wala na tayong pinag-usapan, talagang mag-hiwalay-hiwalay tayo,” he added.