PITC gets advance payment but fails to deliver infectious disease hospital before pandemic – COA

Published August 13, 2021, 5:12 PM

by Ben Rosario

The Philippine International Trading Corporation (PITC) has failed to construct a hospital for emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases despite receiving the funds for the project two years before the 2019 coronavirus disease pandemic struck.

Research Institute for Tropical Medicine

This was reflected in Commission on Audit (COA) records even as state auditors called out the PITC for continuously hoarding billions of government funds entrusted by government agencies seeking to fastrack the procurement of vital equipment, supplies and other services.

Some P11.02 billion in funds transferred from 2014 to 2020 by various source agencies (SAs) “remained unutilized as of December 31, 2020,” COA said in the 2020 Annual Audit Report (AAR) for the PITC.

“These funds were not returned to the concerned SAs or to the Bureau of Treasury (BTr), but were earmarked for procurements in CY 2021 and onwards, contrary to the pertinent provision os COA Circular No. 94-013 dated December 13, 1994 and the General provisions of the prior year’s General Appropriations Act,” the state audit agency said.

Among the most important undelivered project is the design and construction of a new hospital building for emerging and re-emerging infectious disease that was proposed and paid for by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in 2018.

RITM advanced over P126 million to the PITC for the project in 2018 or two years before the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic started a public health crisis that led to thousands of deaths and serious ailments to millions of Filipinos.

Audit records indicated that the PITC has scheduled the opening of bids for the project contract last March 18.

Procurement of vital medical equipment of the UP-PGH was also delayed notwithstanding the claim of COA that the agency advanced P19.97 million payment to the PITC in 2016.

Delivery of millions of pesos worth of wheelchairs, medical devices and instruments, ECG machines ordered by the Department of Health were likewise delayed since 2017 as the PITC revealed it has scheduled opening of bid documents only this year.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Army’s procurement request for body armors for its soldiers has been scheduled by PITC for opening of bids last February 11, 2021.

COA noted that the PH transferred to the PITC some P668.21 million to cover the purchase in 2019.

COA also revealed that from January to June 2021, the PITC was able to remit P6.328 billion residual and unutilized funds to the BTr and SAs.

The 2020 AAR for PITC was submitted to the state-owned firm’s board of directors chaired by Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez.

Aside from the RITM and the UP-PGH procurement requests, the PITC was also unable to deliver the DTI-Region VII request for the purchase of Coco Hush Decorticating System. A P2.7 million fund was transferred to the PITC way back in 2017.

It was disclosed that the opening of bids for the contract was scheduled on April 27, 2021 or seven years after the DTI-Region VII transferred the funds to PITC.

From 2017 to 2018, the Department of Information and Communication Technology transferred some P1.08 billion to the PITC for the purchase and delivery of various supplies, fiber optic system and other equipment.

The PITC held on to the funds as it assured the DITC that the items ordered will be delivered soon as bid documents are due to be opened in various schedules this year.

Other important medical equipment, supplies and projects that have already been paid for by the requisitioning agencies but not yet delivered were the construction of perimeter fence, canopy and gate and renovation of San Lazaro Crematorium, P23.98 million; procurement of various medical equipment, P20.72 million; steam sterilizers, P9.60 million and portable retinal camera, P7.58 million.