Published by the Visayan Daily Star
Editor-in-Chief & President
Bureau Chief, Dumaguete
MAJA P. DELY
|CARLOS ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA
World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said corrupt practices around medical safety gear for COVID-19 health workers is tantamount to murder as he responded to coronavirus-linked corruption scandals in South Africa where government officials were reported to be hoarding and selling food donations meant for families without income during lockdown.
“Any type of corruption is unacceptable,” Tedros said at an online news conference. “However, corruption related to PPE (personal protective equipment)… Its actually murder. Because if health workers work without PPE, they’re risking their lives. And that also risks the lives of the people they serve.”
Tedros’ statement on PPE and corruption is especially relevant in the Philippines where Senators scored on Saturday the “unscrupulous people” who were undermining local industries in the acquisition of medical equipment and supplies while favoring imports while the country is in its worst recession in decades.
The Confederation of Philippine Manufacturers of PPE complained that our government was favoring imports from China and other countries although it was the Department of Trade and Industry that asked them to produce the medical safety products locally. After they invested in equipment, government ignored them and stepped up importation of PPE.
In typical handwashing fashion, the Department of Health has disowned responsibility for the importation spree, saying its role is limited to providing the technical specifications. It pointed to the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management instead. In another typical response to the controversy, the PS-DBM’s website was shut down on Saturday.
The country is in dire need of PPE and medical equipment and it seems that unscrupulous people are taking advantage of the situation to advance their own interests. Are the people involved in this scheme that is ultimately disadvantageous to the Filipino nation aware that our president has famously declared that he will not tolerate not even a whiff of corruption?*