President Rodrigo Duterte has refuted the opposition's observation that face masks and face shields procured by the government at the start of the pandemic were "overpriced", citing the law of supply and demand.
The masks and shields sold for P27.22 and P120 apiece, respectively, according to a Commission on Audit report. The protective gear were among the items in the Department of Health's P42 billion budget that was transfered to the Department of Budget and Management Procurement Service.
"It's supply and demand," Duterte said in a taped address that aired Saturday. The face masks and face shields were bought from March to April 2020, at the onset of the pandemic, when there was high demand and limited supply, he said.
Duterte said he addressed the issue "just to disabuse the minds of some people about corruption." It was Senate Minority Leader Franklin Dirlon who said the protective gear were overpriced.
"I want to make it of record, I and the Cabinet knew about it. Go ahead and buy the things that we need to fight the pandemic. Emergency ito. Emergency hanggang ngayon," the President said.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the prices of face masks and face shields at the time of purchase was "really uncontrollable simply because of the scarcity."
Lopez said face mask prices had gone down to as low as P5 apiece more than year since the start of the pandemic. "That is the price now, kasi naka-adjust na 'yung market."
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