Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said he is disappointed over Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez’s refusal to act on the P33-billion worth of government funds “parked” at the Philippine International Trading Corp. (PITC).
Drilon said he is disappointed by Lopez’s “negligent attitude” towards the PITC and its “devious and shady schemes” that allowed the agency to hold back billions of pesos in public funds amid the government’s depleting resources due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the devastating calamities that hit the country.
“In the face of the recommendation of the Department of Finance (DoF) and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretaries, the continued defense of Secretary Lopez of PITC reminds us of the saying ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’,” Drilon said in a statement.
“As chairman of the board of the PITC, Lopez has taken no steps to revert over P33 billion ‘parked’ funds to the national coffers,” he added.
“It is sad that in the face of CoA findings, amid calls of the Senate, and in light of the DBM and DoF Secretaries’ recommendations, here we have a DTI Secretary who continuously refuses to do the right thing,” the Senate minority leader said.
“Secretary Lopez turns a blind eye and a deaf ear to a practice that is legally and morally wrong. It is willful ignorance,” he said.
Upon Drilon’s expose, the DoF and DBM said it will recommend to President Duterte the issuance of a directive for the immediate return of over P33-billion parked funds to provide funding to the cash-strapped government.
This was recommended after the Commission on Audit (CoA) found out that PITC is holding onto billions of government funds for various agencies and failed to fully procure and deliver the items needed by the State.
The former Justice Secretary warned Lopez and PITC could be liable for violating the anti-graft law. He said the officials of PITC may be penalized under Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
“The PITC management may be held liable for technical malversation for using the funds of the agencies for a different purpose from which these were originally appropriated by law,” Drilon said.