The Department of Budget and Management wants the owners of Omnibus Bio-Medical Systems Inc. – Van William and Emily Co – for selling more than double the polymerase chain reaction tests for COVID-19 in the middle of the lockdown.
Budget Undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao told President Rodrigo Duterte Monday night that the Cos used their exclusive distributorship agreement to jack up the price of testing machines bought by the Department of Health by more than double the price being sold by the Chinese manufacturer, Sansure Biotech.
“They (Cos) should pay for what they have done before kasi we — gipit na gipit tayo. Hindi tayo makalipad kasi may — mayroon tayong mga restrictions and all. They’re the only ones who are connected to Sansure and they’re selling it at least not less than double the price and you cannot get it unless you pass by — you pass through them. I think the same problem with the private sector,” said Lao.
Duterte reacted to POLITIKO’s report Monday about the Cos monopolizing the COVID testing machines and gear which explained the outrageous prices amid the heightened demand during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ). Duterte confronted Health Secretary Francisco Duque about the Omnibus cartel but the latter denied knowing the Cos.
Senator Ping Lacson had questioned the DOH why it paid P4 million for each Sansure testing machine from Omnibus when the same machine was bought for onlyP1.5 million each by the private-led Project ARK which bought directly from Sansure.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said said the Cos could be charged with profiteering or “taking advantage of a national emergency” which was also included in one of the provisions of the Bayanihan Act.
”From what we heard from at least Project Ark ‘no, this is very serious kasi nga the only source that we can get these PCR machines and kit is from Sansure now and there was really almost an attempt to blackmail us into buying something very expensive (equipment).That’s why I thought baka mayroon talagang basis para imbestigahan po itong Co couple ng NBI (National Bureau of Investigat9nn)‘ for profiteering and hoarding,” Roque said.
Lao said Omnibus’ racket was unraveled during a bidding for Sansure machines. “Omnibus Bio-Medical Systems Inc. offered it at P4.325 million; Guidance Management Corporation at P5.274 million, and Fil-Anaserve Inc. at P7.74 million These are all domestic corporations selling Sansure equipment in the Philippines. However, during the bid they did not win because a foreign corporation from Hong Kong sold it to us, ‘yung mga kits. So natalo po sila sa bidding kaya hindi sila nanalo. But they are complaining why are we not respecting their exclusive distributorship,” Lao said.
Lao said Sansure touched based with the government through the Chinese embassy about its displeasure over the profiteering of its distributor, Omnibus. “The officers from Sansure actually went to the Philippines. I met them last Friday and also yesterday, we met them over lunch sa DBM. We personally requested that they sell directly to the Philippines. And they’re willing to forgo of Omnibus,” said Lao.
Lao said the DBM would buy directly from Sansure and would never deal with Omnibus which was the preferred middleman of Duque and other DOH officials.
“We are no longer willing to discuss with Sansure if they go through Omnibus because they were given a chance before when the government really needed it, and they gave us a very high price and threw the ball to us that, ‘You can only deal with us because we’re the exclusive distributor in the Philippines,” said Lao.