NARRA, Palawan — Mayor Gerandy Danao has ordered an investigation into an alleged transaction entered between Vice Mayor Crispin Lumba Jr. and the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (MDRRMO) involving the supply by the former of some 30,000 face masks for use in the town’s effort to fight COVID-19.
Danao told Palawan News he ordered the investigation after he received a written complaint from local suppliers of washable face masks for the Narra government, claiming that they could no longer supply the material to the municipality.
“May iniimbestigatahan lang tayong konting problems sa face masks na sinu-supply ng mga taga-Narra sa MDRRMO. May complaint kasi — bale ang sinu-supply nilang face masks hindi sila inabisuhan na itigil na ang supply. Noong mag-supply na sila, hindi na tinanggap dahil puno na raw,” Danao said.
“Tapos may dumating daw na 30,000 na face masks, yan daw ay galing kay Vice Lumba. ‘Yon daw ang dahilan na na-stop ang pamimili ni MDRRMO, kaya pinaimbestigahan natin,” he added.
Danao said he temporarily relieved the head of the town’s MDRRMO, Raymund dela Rosa, to pave way for an investigation. He stressed that Dela Rosa was temporarily re-assigned not because he has been found guilty, but only to facilitate the investigation.
“Kaya natin siya inilipat kasi dapat wala siya doon habang may investigation,” he added.
Dela Rosa has declined a request for an interview but is expected to speak to the municipal council during its probe this week.
The MDRRMO has reportedly set aside an estimated P1.4 million allotted for the purchase of face masks and other necessities for the town’s frontline health workers.
The MDRRMO reportedly buys its face masks from local suppliers for P35 each.
Lumba denies allegation
Meanwhile, in an interview with Palawan News, Lumba denied that his office is supplying the MDRRMO with face masks he reportedly ordered from a supplier in Cavite at P11 each.
“Sa mga face masks dyan ngayon, wala talagamg galing sa akin, kahit isa walang galing sa akin. Lalung-lalo na, walang galing dyan sa sinasabi nila na binili ko ng P11 sa Cavite,” Vice Mayor Lumba told Palawan News.
He admitted he had ordered face mask from Cavite not for the municipality but for the Vice Mayor’s League of Palawan where he its president.
“Kaya ako nag-order kasi kailangan na ng ating mga kasamahang vice-mayors. Personal namin ‘yon, and galing sa pondo ng Vice-Mayors League of the Philippines (VMLP),” he said.
He added that the face masks that he ordered has yet to be delivered, and vowed to invite media to observe once the delivery is made to him.
“Pinagpipilitan nila na ‘yong face masks dyan galing ay yon ang order ko. Pinagdidiinan nila kaya sabi ko kapag may notice na dumating na ‘yong order ko, magpapasama ako sa mga taga-media at kay municipal administrator sa pagbayad nito kasi cash on delivery ito, para mapatunayan ko na paano mapupunta sa MDRRMO kung hindi pa nakakarating sa Palawan ito, ” he said.
“Politika ito, sinisiguro ko lang na wala akong pinasok na face masks at wala akong balak ipasok na face masks. Kasi tayo pa nga ang nananawagan sa mga nagtatahi na ibenta nila ito sa MDRRMO. Ayaw naman natin silang kunan ng hanap-buhay,” he added.