OKAY. Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino denied that his office had a hand in the purchase of the test kits used by the tri-cities in their rapid antibody testing last month. The cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu conducted mass testing in what they called a scientific and data-based approach to determine the prevalence of infections of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in the community.
In an interview with SunStar Cebu, Dino said it was the local government units (LGUs) which made the purchase. He made this denial in response to allegations on social media and mainstream media that his office had something to do with the purchase, which was allegedly overpriced. There were allegations that he made money out of those transactions.
He specifically cited the case of Cebu City, which purchased the Food and Drugs Administration-approved and Department of the Interior and Local Government-recommended test kits. He cited figures that the price of the kits purchased by Cebu City was lower than the price of the same brand used by some LGUs in the National Capital Region that also conducted mass testing.
Okay, let’s not debate on whether those test kits were overpriced or not. But from what I heard, that particular brand of test kits only cost P180 per kit and was not even reliable and accurate. But here are more nagging questions that Dino needs to answer.
Who were the importers and distributors? I am asking this question in view of allegations and insinuations about the identities of these distributors. Also, may I ask this question? Who are the owners of the laboratories that conducted the examinations of the specimens taken from the patients and how much did these laboratories charge per patient?
Dino cannot blame the public for suspecting that he had a hand in the purchase of the test kits because it was his office that pushed the undertaking. His public relations officer kept on issuing press releases that he is actively involved in the undertaking under the Project Balik Buhay (PBB).
Who created and conceptualized the PBB? Was it the idea of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas? I never heard of PBB from other LGUs or even from Malacañang. What was Dino’s mandate in creating the PBB? Was he ordered or authorized by Malacañang or the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to create the project?
I will not use the word “order” because it is very insulting to Mayors Edgardo Labella, Jonas Cortes and Junard Chan. But who influenced the three local chief executives to conduct mass rapid antibody testing? It seems that it was a well-coordinated move. I don’t think the three mayors would have agreed on a common approach if an influential person hadn’t initiated it.
Now, Dino would say that the mass testing was recommended by the DOH 7? Do you think that it was the idea of DOH 7 Director Jaime Bernadas? I doubt it. Not even the DOH central office launched that kind of project.
Until now, Dino’s office and even Mayor Labella have failed to account for the donations they received from donors of their quarantine facilities like the one at the Sacred Heart School and at the North Reclamation Area. President Rodrigo Duterte said donations are considered public funds so these should be properly accounted for. But let me be clear on this. I am not accusing anybody of corruption. The public is entitled to any clarification and explanation. Kuwentas klaras ba. Supak man kaha sa corruption. Be transparent.