NARRA, Palawan — Mayor Gerandy Danao has put on hold the distribution of over 42,000 pieces of face masks acquired by the local disaster response office over questions surrounding its purchase.
Danao told Palawan News the facemasks that had been acquired by the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO) will not be used until an investigation he ordered on its purchase is completed. Meanwhile, he also ordered the direct manufacturing by the municipality of the facemasks that they will be distributing to locals.
“Ang mga face masks natin dyan ay naka-standby dahil nga ongoing ang investigation. Sa ngayon kukuha muna kami ng face masks sa mga locals. Bibili ng tela, at ipagagawa sa kanila at babayaran ang kanilang labor. Ang gagawin natin ay parang livelihood na rin nila, munisipyo na mismo ang magpapagawa at babayaran na lang natin ang labor ng mga tao,” Danao said.
“Ang gagawin natin bibili na lang tayo ng tela at garter, at least kung ilan ang kaya niyang gawin, puwede mo siyang dileberan ng tela na ganito kadami, hindi sosobra,” he added.
Danao said the new order of locally-sewn face masks will be given to the residents who are no longer allowed to go out without wearing them based on a directive by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
Local suppliers complain
The controversy started when Danao received a complaint from local manufacturers claiming that the MDRRMO had stopped buying from them and will instead purchase a bulk shipment of face masks ordered by Vice Mayor Crispin Lumba Jr.
Lumba earlier denied he had a pending transaction with the MDRRMO, and claimed that the shipment he ordered from Cavite was intended for distribution to members of the Vice Mayor’s League of Palawan, of which he is the chairman.
Danao has temporarily relieved MDRRMO Raymund dela Rosa and reassigned at the Mayor’s office pending the results of the investigation. He also told Palawan News that he had met with Vice Mayor Lumba and told him the municipality will not accept his face masks.
“Sinabi ko na rin kay Vice Mayor na hindi natin tatanggapin dito ‘yong face masks niya dahil galing sa kontaminadong lugar yan. Ayaw ko ikalat dito yan. Wala naman siyang ibang sinabi. Sabi niya lang sa iba na lang nila ipamimigay,” Danao said.
The MDRRMO had acquired a total inventory of 42,516 face masks mostly supplied by a local middle man who had advanced the payments to the local manufacturers while the municipality was still processing the release of its funds.
Danao conducted separate meetings with dela Rosa and Vice Mayor Lumba on Tuesday as part of his ongoing proble. He said he also met with the middle man, Darwin Anqui, who approached him for help in the release of the payment for the facemasks already delivered to the MDRRMO, adding that he was not aware of the transaction.
The MDRRMO was reportedly buying the locally produced face masks for P35 per piece.
“Pumunta nga siya sa akin kahapon (Martes), nakipag-usap kung puwede ko nga raw siyang tulungan. Kahapon ko lang din nalaman na may ganoon pala. Nagsabi siya sa akin na kung puwede [ko] siyang tulungan kasi malaki raw talaga ang mawawala sa kanyang pera. Sabi ko nga sa kanya noong ginawa niyo ito hindi nga kayo nagsasabi sa akin. Ngayong problema na nandito na kayo sa akin. Sana noon pa lang noong ginagawa ‘yan nagsabi na kayo, nagulo niyo lang ‘yong munisipyo,” Danao said.