PITC shortchanging gov’t by over P1 billion – Drilon

Published November 28, 2020, 8:20 AM

by Mario Casayuran

Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon on Saturday said state trading firm Philippine International Trading Center (PITC) is shortchanging the government by a staggering amount of P1 billion in interest income that it should have remitted to the national treasury based on Presidential Decree (PD) No. 1445, or the Government Auditing Code of the Philippines.

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

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

“Pursuant to Section 65 of Presidential Decree No. 1445, or the Government Auditing Code of the Philippines, all interest earning of the fund transfers must be remitted to the national treasury,” Drilon said.

“But PITC, out of sheer greed or negligence, is holding on to the huge sum of public funds that could be used by the government for more urgent needs such as COVID-19 and calamity response,” he added.

Citing the Commission on Audit (COA) findings, Drilon said interest earnings on fund transfers from various source agencies invested in Money Market Placement were recorded as income of PITC, instead of remitting the same to the National Treasury which is not in accordance with Section 65 of Presidential Decree (PD) No. 1445 and Department of Finance (DOF) Circular No. 01-2017.

“It’s a devious scheme. They remit funds to make it appear they are compliant but, in reality, what they remit is ‘loose change’ compared to the amount that they are holding back from the government,” Drilon said.

“To me, PITC is acting more like a network marketing and a money remittance agency ‘taking’ money from across the bureaucracy rather than a trading corporation, which is its primary mandate,” Drilon added.

“Niloloko tayo at niluluto tayo sa sarili nating mantika. Barya-barya lang po ang ibinabalik sa gobyerno kumpara sa nakokolekta nilang bilyun-bilyong piso (We have been fooled and we were fried with our own lard. They remitted a pittance to the governance compared to what the billions of pesos they have collected.),” he said.

Drilon, a former Justice and Executive secretary, said another scheme being committed by PITC is recording its interest earnings as its own corporate income, which the senator called “illegal, not to mention disadvantageous to the national coffers, that should be stopped.”

“PITC’s charter is very clear – it may invest its own corporate funds. But these are not PITC corporation funds, these are deposits from source agencies, transferred to it for a very specific purpose – for the sole purpose of purchasing various products authorized under the appropriations law,” he explained.

COA also categorically stated that “these funds are only held in trust therefore, any benefit derived therefrom (i.e. interest from money market placements and investments) technically accrues to the fund owners”, he noted.

“This is not the money of the PITC but of the different agencies. PITC does not have the authority or right nor the power to retain any portion of the interest income,” Drilon stressed.

As of December, 2019, the PITC’s consumer deposits, held in various trusts and money market instruments, as reported by COA, have reached over P33 billion.