TABUK CITY, Kalinga– The City Health Services Office (CHSO) defended the emergency purchase of thermal guns by the local government at the height of the Luzonwide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) as there was very limited supply of the said medical equipment at that time where most government and private offices had made procurements for the same as part of the enforcement of the prescribed health protocols to prevent the spread of the dreaded Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the city.
In her emotional speech during one of the local government executive meetings held previously, City Health Officer Dr. Henrietta Bagayao said that it is unfortunate that her name is being dragged in the social media on the alleged overpriced purchase of the thermal guns by the city when local officials were aware of what happened at the height of the ECQ where there was actually limited or no supply of thermal scanners in the city.
She stated that the local government needed some 100 thermal guns during the height of the Luzonwide lockdown because the city will be maintaining some 32 checkpoints because aside from the 5 major city checkpoints, the local government had contemplated in putting up additional checkpoints at the market, rural health units, city isolation unit, barangay isolation units and the holding areas, thus, the initial request of some 60 thermal guns from Mayor Darwin Estrañero.
However, she claimed that the mayor instead encouraged her to increase the request to 100 units because it might be difficult to make repeat orders with the supplier which was legitimate due to the snowballing need of the thermal guns by almost all local governments in the country at that time, thus, the purchase of the 100 units thermal guns.
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According to her, she called up several suppliers and pleaded for them to assist the local government in looking for available supply of thermal guns because it is needed by the personnel who will be manning the checkpoints around the city to check the temperature of people moving in and out of the city during the community quarantine period but there was no available supply contrary to what is being projected by the critics of the present administration that there was available supply that time which was not actually true.
The CHSO head that she event contacted some suppliers in Manila only to be informed that the medical stores in Bambang were already closed during the community quarantine period.
She admitted that there was indeed a high need of the thermal guns and that there was no willing supplier to provide the city with the same but what was available was a supplier who was willing to produce the thermal guns but with a higher buying price.
She said that no less than the mayor also assisted in looking for available supply of the medical equipment and what was available was the one with a high buying price, thus, between life and death, the local government was constrained to procure the same because it was needed by the people manning the checkpoints and it is also one of the requirements that was imposed by the national inter-agency task force to ensure the close monitoring of the people moving in and out of the different local governments.
When the supply was delivered, even personnel of the accounting office questioned the purchase and immediately referred the matter to the mayor who responded that the said personnel should help in looking for available supply that could be bought to much cheaper prices that never happened.
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