Avisado says controversy-embroiled procurement arm is independent from DBM

Published August 28, 2021, 12:10 PM

by Mario Casayuran

The Department of Budget and Management’s Procurement Service (DBM-PS) is an organization independent from the agency proper.

President Rodrigo Duterte Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado shake hands following the latter’s oath-taking ceremony in Malacañang on August 5, 2019. (Malacañang)

This was asserted Friday, August 27, by resigned DBM Secretary Wendel Avisado before the Senate Blue Ribbon committee following a Commission on Audit (COA) report that the Department of Heath showed incompetence in handling some P68 billion of COVID-19 response funds.

Former DBM Undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao, resigned DBM-PS chief, was being investigated by the Senate committee for supposedly awarding P42- billion worth of ‘’overpriced’’ COVID-19 medical supplies to ‘’mysterious’’ bidders.

But DBM-PS, according to Avisado, ‘’operates independently.’’

‘’And we don’t interfere in their day to day operations,’’ he added.

To do so would amount to inference, he stressed.

Senators led by Richard J. Gordon, committee chairman, accused Lao of being evasive when confronted with allegations of fraud.

Avisado explained that the DBM-PS was created by Letter of Instruction in 1978 during the Marcos era. He said there ought to be a law to improve the systems at DBM-PS.

Most, if not all, men and women at DBM-PS are contractuals, Lao, for his part, said.

DBM-PS is similar to the Philippine International Trading Corporation of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). Government agencies make their purchases through these two – DBM-PS and PITC – organizations.

Thus billions of pesos of government funds are parked for months or years at the two offices.

Both Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon and Senator Panfilo M. Lacson accused Lao of ‘’appalling lack of due diligence’’ in awarding billions of peso worth of medical supplies.

Lao resigned as DBM-PS chief last June. He told senators he wanted to go back to his law practice in Davao.