Senators eye review of gov't purchases thru DBM-PS, PITC

Published September 1, 2021, 3:17 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senators agreed that there should be a review of the procedures in tapping the Department of Budget and Management’s Procurement Service (DBM-PS) and the Philippine International Trading Corporation (PITC) for buying supplies for government agencies.

Senator Juan Edgardo ‘Sonny’ Angara (Senate PRIB)

“I think we should review these offices and the procedures, especially in light of recent events,” Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara said in a text message on Wednesday, September 1.

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee’s is currently investigating the Department of Health’s (DOH) disbursement of COVID-19 funds, including its transfer of some P42 billion to the DBM-PS for the purchase of PPEs and pandemic response equipment.

Senators found the move questionable, citing, among others, the lack of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the two agencies for spending the mult-billion peso allocation. Officials maintained there was no need for a MOA since the COVID-19 supplies were declared “common-use supplies”

“I believe ang original purpose nila is magkaroon ng tinatawag na economies of scale sa procurement o pagbili ng kagamitan na gagamitin ng pamahalaan especially kung malakihan ang order o bili. Kaya tinawag na common use supplies ang binibili nila (I believe their orginal purpose is to have what we call economies of cale in the procurement of supplies for the government especially for massive orders or requirements. That’s why their purchases are for common use supplies),” Angara said.

“Dapat magkaroon ng adequate safeguards dito para maprotektahan ang interes ng publiko (There should be adequate safeguards here to protect public interest),” he opined.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, for his part, said procurements should only be limited to common use supplies and equipment. On the other hand, he said purchases thru the PITC should be prohibited.

“Let’s limit role of [DBM-PS] to common[ly] used supplies only. Prohibit departments from transferring funds to PITC,” said Recto, who has repeatedly slammed the delay in procurements under the DBM-PS and the PITC.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said that while the DBM-PS and PITC had long been a part of government procurements, he said the measure has been “abused” amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Hindi ma-explika ng mahusay (They cannot explain it well),” Sotto said, recalling the Senate’s hearings on the issue.

“At tanging DOH lang ang kasama ng PS-DBM na pumalpak ng ganyan (And only the DOH, along with the DBM-PS, have failed on this),” he added.

Earlier, Sen. Imee Marcos said she plans to file a bill that would abolish the DBM-PS and the PITC.