Drilon deplores ‘kid gloves’ treatment of PITC despite undelivered projects

Instead of calling them out, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Wednesday lamented how the government is treating Philippine International Trading Corp. (PITC) officials with “kid gloves” instead of calling out its inefficiency.

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

Drilon said Malacañang’s approach to the issue of the parked P33.4-billion funds under the PITC and the agency’s violations of auditing and procurement procedures is “poor” and lacks “teeth.”

“The response is rather ‘soft’. They are treating the issue with ‘kid gloves.’ Maybe they have not yet realized the gravity of violations committed by the PITC,” Drilon said in a statement.

Drilon made the statement after Malacanang ordered a review of the undelivered projects of the PITC, which is a small trading firm attached to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Despite the call of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez for the immediate return of the P33.4-billion to provide money to the cash-strapped government for its COVID-19 response and to respond to the relief and rehabilitation of communities damaged during the recent typhoons, the PITC has yet to return to money.

“This is a see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil approach,” he noted.

At the same time, Drilon argued that PITC’s decision to illegally keep over P1-billion in interest income is also a “clear violation of the President’s own executive order, EO 91, signed in 2019 which provides for the country’s shift to cash budgeting system.

Under Section 1 of Duterte’s EO, the senator quoted “that all authorized appropriations shall be available for obligation and disbursement only until the end of each fiscal year” and that obligations incurred by the national government within each fiscal year shall be implemented during the same FY.”

He said it also states that “goods and services corresponding to said obligations shall be delivered or rendered, inspected and accepted by the end of each fiscal year.”

Thus, he said, it is misleading for Palace officials to say that the PITC can keep the interest earned from the P33-bilion transferred to it by several agencies, which Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque had said when he argued that PITC has the legal right to keep 50 percent of interest income.

The Senate minority chief pointed out that under Section 65 of the 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.

“That is not theirs to keep in the first place. The Dividend Law does not apply here, as these are not funds of the corporation,” he explained.

“These are interest income of the money of the agencies, it should not form part of the corporate funds where the dividends are computed,” he pointed out.

“Again, this is only one of the manipulative schemes of PITC. We will unearth more of these shady schemes when the Senate investigates this,” added Drilon.