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BuCor to explain delayed drug purchase

Alvin Murcia

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Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra yesterday said the Department of Justice (DoJ) will look into the delay in the procurement of medicines by the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) after it was flagged down by the Commission on Audit (CoA).

“I will certainly look into this. I’ll wait for the BuCor explanation,” Guevarra said.

The Justice chief said in a congested prison where the risk of getting sick is very high, medicine is next only to food in terms of essentiality.

Any delay in its procurement and delivery should immediately be addressed.

Guevarra was reacting to the CoA report that convicted persons denied of liberty at the state-run National Bilibid Prison (NBP) and the Correctional Institution for Women (CIW) have been  “deprived” of medical care as a result of the delay in the procurement of much-needed medicine.

The CoA said the long procurement process “exceeded the maximum allowable time of three months” as provided for under Republic Act 9184, the Government Procurement Reform Act.

Likewise, BuCor was also questioned for its failure to collect rental fees and unpaid electric consumption costs from delinquent concessionaires maintaining business establishments in various prisons run by the bureau.

Unpaid rental fees have reached P5,043,144.65, it was disclosed.

On the other hand, some P7.03 million in electricity consumption bills of concessionaires have also not been collected during the year.

CoA disclosed that the contractor, V & J Trading, failed to pay P77,219 in electric and water consumption.

Rental fees amounting to P280,000 and P896,400 in liquidated damages were also not paid despite repeated demands.

The state auditing office disclosed seven procurement contracts for a total of P65.53 million worth of medicines were awarded “beyond the maximum allowable” 90 day period last year.

“Further, there were 14 projects totaling P56,561,041.35 with winning proponent/bidder but no Notice to Proceed (NTP) has been issued even after the lapse of 90 days from the start of bid execution on 5 July 2019, or a delay of 119 days as of 31 January 2019,” the report said.

CoA director Michael Bacani asked the bureau to “strictly comply with the procurement timelines” prescribed under RA 9184 in a letter to BuCor Director General Gerald Q. Bantag.

BuCor officials said the belated procurement activities may have been triggered by the suspension by the Ombudsman of the chairman of the BuCor Bids and Awards Committee.

The BuCor has been placed under a “disadvantageous position” due to various violations of the contract for Food Subsistence Agreement with a private contractor.

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