Tuesday, March 07, 2006

P50M overpricing at WVSUMC exposed

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE medical chief of the West Visayas State University Medical Center (WVSUMC) is under fire for the alleged overpricing in the purchase of hospital equipment worth P135million.
The controversy emerged when “a certain sector from the WVSU community” wrote the university’s Board of Regent (BoR) requesting the rejection of the “lease-to-own scheme” offered by Himex Corporation to WVSUMC medical director Ramon Guerra.
The transaction involved the purchase of a whole body CT Scan system (Presto, multi slice) worth P73.117million; two ultrasound machines (EUB-6500, 4 probes with 3D and EUB-6500, 5 probes with 4D) worth P32.546million; conventional x-ray machine (DR-155HSII/SX-YB2) worth P8.702million and R/F x-ray machine (TD-B8/DHF-155HII, 800mA, 2 tubes) worth P21.657million.
The complainants said the transaction did not undergo bidding and was overpriced by P50million.
In their complaint to the BoR), under the “lease-to-own scheme” the WVSUMC is given the option to buy the equipment within six months from entering into the contract.
The financing scheme requires the hospital to pay Himex P2,250,400 monthly for five year. Aside from the monthly payment, Himex also requires the hospital to obtain a bank guarantee to ensure payment of the monthly installments.
But the complainants said that St. Paul’s Hospital (SPH) recently purchased a package for CT scan and two ultrasound machines, which have similar specifications to Himex’s offer, for P50million only.
The complainants said while the brand name of the equipment offered by Himex is different from those the SPH bought, “the machine and its functions are essentially the same and gives the same quality of output.”
Also, the equipment offered by Himex is also offered by other suppliers at a much cheaper price although with a different brand name.
“One the suppliers offered the CT scan for P24million and the x-ray machine for P9million, compared to the P73million and the P21million offered by Himex,” the complainants said.
Direct contracting
Also, the purchase of the equipment from Himex allegedly did not undergo competitive bidding “because Dr. Guerra, with the assistance of the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC), resorted to direct contracting.
Guerra allegedly claimed that the equipment needed by the hospital is exclusively distributed by Himex only.
In order to railroad the transaction in favor of Himex, Guerra allegedly limited the description of the machines to those offered by Himex.
Even BAC Resolution No. 34 dated November 8, 2005 which declared a failure of bidding for only one x-ray machine, the complainants said.
Because of the failure of bidding, the BAC endorsed the lease-to-own scheme of Himex as the equipment was badly needed by the hospital.
“There is discrepancy in this procedure because the subject of the BAC bidding last July 21, 2005 was only for an x-ray machine yet what came out later is the purchase of five equipment from Himex. Except for the x-ray machine, the rest of the equipment did not undergo bidding,” the complaint said.
Expensive and impractical
Also, the purchase did not have endorsement of department heads, members and end users as only Guerra negotiated with Himex.
The equipment offered by Himex, like the 3D and 4D ultrasounds are impractical as it would be expensive for WVSUMC patients who belong to poor families.
The complainants said even the SPH, which caters to more affluent patients, seldiom use the 4D ultrasound because it is very expensive.
“Doctors in Iloilo City prefer to use high end 2D ultrasound,” the complaint added.
The complainants also asked the BoR to investigate similar lease-to-own scheme entered into by the WVSUMC with Medikotek, another supplier of medical equipment, for the purchase of the steam sterilizer at P6million and patient monitor at P1.8million.
Last February, 25, 2006, two private sector representatives to the BoR – Eduardo Aguillon and Amelita Benedicto – gave support for the complainants and asked the board to hold in abeyance the Himex transaction pending an investigation into the alleged overpricing.

RP government owes Jap contractor of new airport project

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) reportedly owes the Japanese contractor of the new Iloilo international airport project P900million.
A source from the New Iloilo Airport Development Project (Niadp) who requested anonymity said the Taisei-Shimizu Joint Venture (TSJV) is spending its own money to beat the October 2006 deadline.
The source added that the P900million is the counterpart funding of the national government as requirement for the P6.2-billion loan from the Japan Bank of International Cooperation.
The said fund was to be coursed through the DOTC, which is the implementing agency of the project, for the acquisition of the 184-hectare lot and disturbance compensation for the affected residents and tenants.
Atty. Roberto Maroma, counsel to the TSJV, confirmed that the national government owes the Japanese contractor P200million as of November 2005.
Maroma added that the “Republic of the Philippines violated its contract with TSJV” for failure to release the funding.
“But I have no idea if how much is the latest billing of the contractor. The TSJV is now shelling money of its own pocket just to continue the project,” Maroma said.
Maroma, who was confined at the hospital due to loose bowel movement, assured to go over the TSJV billings to the national government once he is discharged.
DOTC officials could not be reached for comments.
Governor Niel Tupas Sr. said he will look into the said report but assured that the airport project is still right on schedule.
“As of February, the slippage of the airport project is at 23 percent while the accomplishment is at 33 percent. If all goes well, the project will be finished by Ocotber 2006,” Tupas said.
However, the Japanese contractor has asked for an extension until March 2007 if problems arise in the project, Tupas said.
The airport project has been hounded with controversy beginning with “Turil ni Niel” exposé of former second district congressman Augusto “Boboy” Syjuco, now Tesda director-general, against Tupas.
The exposé even became the subject of a public debate between Syjuco and Tupas. Nothing came out of that debate but wasted saliva.
Syjuco’s exposé triggered a congressional inquiry in 2003 but it fizzled out without concrete results as Syjuco eventually joined Tupas and Drilon during the 2004 elections after abandoning then first district Congressman Oscar Garin who ran against Tupas.
The “Turil ni Niel” yarn rose from the grave last year when third district Rep. Arthur Defensor, chair of the House’s good government committee, led another round of congressional investigation into certain anomalies and irregularities at the airport project, this time based on the allegations of Board Member Manny Gallar.
The Defensor committee concluded the probe several weeks back but it has yet to come up with a report of its findings.


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