Atienza slams Cusi-backed bill exempting PNOC from gov't procurement law

Published June 2, 2021, 9:32 PM

by Ben Rosario

A senior official of the House of Representatives has called on his colleagues to reject a bill that proposes to grant the state-run Philippine National Oil Company immunity from being subjected to congressional oversight and from complying with strict government procurement laws.

Deputy Speaker and Buhay Partylist Rep. Lito Atienza said certain provisions of House Bill 8762 are aimed at freeing PNOC from observing laws that were enacted to provide guarantees for good governance Under the bill, PNOC chaired by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi will be exempted from congressional oversight authority and from the rules provided under Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Act.

“This proposed law amending the PNOC charter is objectionable on two crucial points: not only does it undermine Congressional power of the purse by seeking to exempt the PNOC from submitting its annual budget to Congress for approval, it also aims to exempt the PNOC from the requirements of public bidding in procuring goods and services directly related to its operations.” said Atienza.

“Both clearly go against the Constitutional mandate of Congress to exercise the power of the purse and is a gross violation of existing laws specifically R.A. 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act. This would effectively remove transparency,” he explained.

HB 8762 is authored by Pampanga Rep. Mikee Macapagal-Arroyo.

Cusi has reportedly strongly endorsed swift approval of the bill.

Atienza said granting PNOC exemption from the conduct of public bidding for its procurement, would only “send the wrong signals” to other government-owned and controlled corporation.

By exempting PNOC from the provisions of RA 9184, other GOCC’s might also pursue a similar legislative measure for the to get away from transparency and scrutiny in the use of public funds.

Cusi, according to Atienza, will be given “uncontrolled power to use the money generated by the agency”.

“He has probably forgotten that PNOC was created by law and uses government funds in its operations. They cannot be exempted from the law. This would only breed more corruption and make it beyond the reach of anyone,” Atienza said.