Is DTI Sec. Lopez liable for parked PITC funds? Senate will investigate, says Drilon

Published November 28, 2020, 6:37 PM

by Mario Casayuran

The Senate will study if Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon M. Lopez is liable in any way for the existence of P33 billion from various government agencies parked at the Philippine International Trading Corporation (PITC), when the funds should have been transferred back to the National Treasury at the end of a fiscal year, Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon said today, Nov. 28. 

Senator Franklin Drilon (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)

Drilon said an upcoming probe on the PITC by the Senate, most likely by the Blue Ribbon committee chaired by Senator Richard J. Gordon, would focus on Lopez being the PITC board chairman.

The probe may take place between Dec. 7 to 17, before the Senate goes on a Christmas break, Drilon pointed out.

“Did Lopez have the power to look over the operation of PITC being its board chairman? Nagpabaya? (Was he negligent?),” he asked.

Drilon recalled a Senate Committee of the Whole hearing where Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III testified that he did not sign anything as board chairman of them Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) and had no power to decide.

“Lopez did not do anything. What is his liability? We will study [it],” Drilon, a former Senate President and Justice secretary, said during a DWIZ radio interview today.

Drilon earlier said that PITC short-changed the government by a staggering amount of P1 billion in interest income that it should have remitted to the national coffers, pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 1445 or the Government Auditing Code of the Philippines.

Drilon, who exposed the parked P33 billion in PITC’s bank accounts, explained that the PITC’s earnings from interest income on fund transfers from various source agencies for the period 2016 to 2019 reached P1,406,727,544.

However, only 28 percent of which or P392,575,316, were remitted to the government covering the same period, Drilon pointed out, “which is a clear violation of Section 65 of PD 1445.

Drilon said the Senate will study if there is still a need to retain PD1445.
He said there are rumors that there are officials who are planning to run in the 2022 elections. He did not elaborate.

“Since the role of PITC is into trading, why did it perform a role of negotiating for the purchase of equipment or supplies for government agencies such as the Philippine Army?” Drilon asked.