By Nancy Carvajal
The company which President Rodrigo Duterte ordered to be investigated for allegedly overpricing COVID-19 testing equipment blocked the sale of much needed extraction machine to the private sector, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has found.
The NBI Speciala Action Unit said in an initial report that Omnibus Biomedical System Inc. stopped Project Ark from buying the extraction machine needed for polymerase chain reacion (PCR) tests.
Project Ark is a private sector-led initiative to ramp up COVID-19 testing in the country.
A source from Project Ark told NBI that Omnibus “intercepted the machine for Project Ark and gave the machine to the Philippine Red Cross (PRC).”
PRC, which is led by Senator Richard Gordon, also conducts PCR tests. However, the P3,500 fee it charges per test is higher than the cost of a test conducted by Project Ark.
Omnibus’ owners, the couple Van William and Emily Co, appeared before the NBI on Monday in compliance with a summon related to the economic sabotage charges they are facing.
Last week, the Bureau of Customs raided Omnibus’ warehouse in Malabon City and its office in San Juan City as part of the investigation into its alleged profiteering from the COVID-19 pandemic.