BoI clarifies audit report on PPE

THE Board of Investments (BoI) has clarified reports based on the Commission on Audit (CoA) findings that the agency did not provide donated protective gear to the intended recipients until later.

In a virtual briefing on Friday, BoI Managing Head Ceferino Rodolfo said the Chinese Bureau of Customs ordered the agency to confirm that the products met the quality criteria of China or the receiving country, in this case, the Philippines, based on their required Joint Declaration Form.

Because it was outside of the Board’s jurisdiction, however, it was unable to take proper action.

“We are talking about products here that are meant to protect our health workers,” Rodolfo, who is also an undersecretary at the Department of Trade and Industry, explained. “When we received the packages, as a protocol, the BoI had to do proper checking and evaluation of the protective health gear products including its location of origination as well as its quality.”

He further said that the donations would not be held or stockpiled, and that the public should be aware that the BoI, in order to act prudently and in accordance with applicable laws, rules, and regulations, did due diligence first to ensure that everything was in order.

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The BoI said in its response to the China Customs that it was unable to sign the paper. But, as Rodolfo pointed out, the goods arrived and were delivered on April 26, 2021.

Meanwhile, he noted that the Customs paperwork explicitly specified that the abovementioned masks were non-medical, despite the accusation that the distribution “could have saved the lives of some doctors, nurses, frontliners…”

Nevertheless, after discussing thoroughly with the CoA during an exit conference in March 2022, the BoI was cleared and distributed the products to the Philippine General Hospital through its Infection Control Unit, Rodolfo pointed out.

Security guards, administrative staff and others at the hospital are now wearing the masks in non-frontline areas.

He said the BoI goes to great lengths to ensure that the personal protective equipment (PPE) donated to frontline workers is actually protective. The agency also expresses gratitude to its dedicated collaborators for their continuous support of the BoI, as safeguarding Filipino lives is the agency’s top concern.

The agency has been engaging with the private sector since the beginning of the pandemic to supplement the supply of medical-grade, internationally-certified PPE sets to government hospitals, including imports and notably domestic manufacturers, Rodolfo added.