| 21 May 2024, Tuesday |

Philippines’ Duterte says medical supplies not overpriced

President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines disputed claims that medical supplies such as personal protective equipment and face masks were overpriced on Thursday, slamming legislators investigating government officials over emergency purchases made last year.

In the Philippines, the fiery leader retains popularity, but his government is under mounting criticism for its handling of one of Asia’s worst coronavirus outbreaks.

In a weekly late-night national speech, Duterte stated, “At the height of the epidemic, when it began, we had nothing.” “It was expensive due to a scarcity of supply.”

The government’s emergency arrangements to acquire medical supplies from a low-capitalized firm with ties to government officials have been questioned by opposition legislators.

Officials from the health ministry were probed at budget hearings over unspent pandemic funding. Over $1 billion in COVID-19 money has been highlighted by state auditors as having “deficiencies.”

“Senate, please do not look into ongoing programs. Your persistent desire to investigate government agencies would derail it “According to Duterte.

After Indonesia, the Philippines has the second largest number of COVID-19 cases and fatalities in Southeast Asia, with 2 million confirmed infections and 33,680 deaths.

Hospitals are being overrun by cases caused by the Delta variety, and healthcare workers have protested against what they describe government negligence and underpaid benefits.

Duterte, who is barred from seeking re-election by the constitution, intends to run for vice president next year. Critics believe it is an attempt to increase his authority.

  • Reuters