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Former Pangasinan gov asks for fair probe on excavated medicines

By Danny O Sagun

Dagupan City (10 June) -- "Let's not make mountains out of a molehill."

Second district Rep. Victor E. Agbayani made this call in reaction to the reported millions worth of medicines excavated at the provincial engineering compound and at the back of Sison Auditorium. "Let's establish facts here," he said during the Engkwentro sa Lenox forum this morning.

Agbayani said he did not believe that the medicines were that much as reported. "Nong una sabi nila isang truckload, tapos dalawa, then tatlong truckloads na," he noted. "Napakaliit ng bodega, di pa kakasya ang kalahating truck ng medicines di ako naniniwalang ganyan karami," he said, referring to the stockroom of the general services office at the Capitol.

He also doubted if said medicines were purchased by the provincial government. If they were, records would show it thru the purchase orders, he said. "Malamang di binili yan ng provincial government, siguro donasyon ang mga yan," he said, adding that he learned of it thru the papers. "Nang mabasa ko sa newspaper, do'n ko lang nalaman," he told the forum.

Retired police Col. Peterno Orduna, who was tasked by Gov. Amado T. Espino, Jr. to lead the investigation of the case told media interviews that he had first learned of the buried medicines sometime last year thru a confidential letter sent to him by an unidentified provincial employee. On Sunday, June 7, he was again tipped off by an employee who, he said, he was willing to come out in the open. Specific locations were provided leading to the discovery of the items, he said.

An Elf truck and an owner jeep was said to have been used to haul the items. "Tatlong beses na bumalik yong truck," Orduna said.

Orduna, executive officer of the provincial disaster coordinating council, clarified that he was pursuing the investigation without politics in mind, adding that necessary complaints might be filed against perpetrators if evidence would warrant filing of cases against them.

The former governor explained that starting year 2000, the province began implementing the so-called pooled procurement program with the 14 government hospitals submitting their respective needs in order to come up with a single annual procurement plan. Medicines and other supplies are purchased in bulk resulting in 50 percent savings, he said.

He also said that delivery of the purchased medicines and supplies were made direct to the hospitals and not to the provincial Capitol.

On the issue whether the items discovered were expired medicines, he said that hospitals experience that. "Sa atin nga, kung kailangan natin ng gamot, saka lang natin mapansin na expired na pala yong stock nating medicines," he said.

Disposal of expired medicines is made once it is cleared by the Commission on Audit with the decision resting with the chief of hospital or the provincial health officer. "Di na kailangang dumaan pa sa gobernador yan," he said even as he agreed that the process in the disposal of expired medicines have to be reviewed especially on issues whether the medicines and medical supplies are toxic or pathologic in nature.

He said a fair and open investigation is needed to determine and establish the facts surrounding the issue. (PIA Pangasinan) [top]

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