By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

GOVERNOR Niel Tupas Sr. has ordered the suspension of the contract and re-bidding of the purchase of an anesthesia machine for the Calinog District Hospital.

 

This, after it was found out that Joemar Trading, the winning bidder of the transaction, sold a second-hand demonstration unit of GE anesthesia machine worth P2.3 million.

 

The controversy came into open after Aljon Jamandron Jr., regional sales manager of Health Solutions Inc., sent a letter to Tupas complaining about the transaction.

 

Health Solutions, the exclusive distributor of GE medical equipment, lost to Joemar Trading in the February 12, 2008 bidding for the anesthesia machine.

 

The losing bibber pegged the machine’s price at P2.398 million while Joemar’s bid was P2.358 million, a difference of P40,000.

 

There were six bidders who joined the prequalification phase but only Joemar and Health Solutions satisfied the requirements of the Bids and Awards Committee.

 

In his letter, Jamandron informed Tupas that the GE Datex-Ohmeda anesthesia machine (serial number AMXLOO990) Joemar delivered to the Calinog hospital was the demonstration unit Health Solutions used in Pampanga.

 

The demonstration unit was later sold to a certain Dr. Rodolfo Gutierrez in a Pampanga hospital.

 

Jamandron said the demonstration anesthesia machine cannot be transferred sans  clearance from their company’s GE Healthcare-trained biomedical engineers.

 

The Health Solutions executive warned that GE will not honor the warranty of the second-hand machine delivered to Calinog.

 

Tupas said he has ordered the Provincial Treasurer’s Office to hold the payment to Joemar Trading in the light of Health Solutions’ claims.

 

The governor also ordered a re-bidding of the equipment even as the Provincial Legal Office (PLO) investigates Jamandron’s letter.

 

INTERLOCKING OWNERSHIP?

 

Based on its bid documents, Joemar Trading holds office in Mandalagan Street, Bacolod City.

 

But Health Solutions claimed that their competitor is owned by a certain Connie Del Castillo, who also owns CDC Pharmacy.

 

Interestingly, CDC was a bidder for the P1.3-million autoclave sterilizer purchased by the Don Valerio Palmares District Hospital in Passi City, Iloilo which has been questioned by the Commission on Audit (COA).

 

The other bidder, Pacific Trade House (PTH), won the January 22 bidding for the sterilizer machine sans a valid business permit.

 

But after examining the bidding documents, the COA said PTH and CDC are owned by a certain Mercedes Sibug which violates government procurement rules.

 

The office address of PTH in Brgy. Cabugao, Pavia, Iloilo is also non-existent which is also a violation of the government procurement act.

 

The COA also found out that the sterilizing machine has no patent and locally manufactured (pasad). The audit agency also learned that the equipment malfunctioned in its initial operation.

 

A panel from the PLO headed by Atty. Jonel Alipao is investigating the anesthesia machine anomaly. Three Sangguniang Panlalawigan committees – good government and justice, health and accounts – are also looking into the transaction.

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