Duterte tells NBI to probe local distributor of ‘overpriced’ test kits

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 26) - President Rodrigo Duterte told the National Bureau of Investigation to probe the Omnibus Corporation, the local distributor of the test kits purchased by the government for the Department of Health, for the alleged overpricing of its items.

“The NBI should study the matter very carefully […] Let’s look at it on what it is legally,” said Duterte in a late night address Monday.

Senator Panfilo Lacson recently flagged the alleged overpricing, citing that an automated extraction machine from the manufacturer Sansure Biotech should only cost ₱1.75 million, but the one purchased by the government is ₱4 million per unit.

An earlier report claimed that Health Secretary Francisco Duque III centralized all the purchases of test kits and machines through the Omnibus Corporation, which the Budget Department identified as the exclusive distributor of Sansure Biotech. The distributing company is reportedly owned by couple Van William and Emily Co.

When asked by Duterte if he knows the couple, Duque said that he is not familiar with them.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque noted that profiteering is punishable by law through the Price Act and Bayanihan Law.