Deputy Speaker and Batangas 6th District Rep. Ralph Recto on Wednesday, Aug. 10, called on President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to dismantle the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Philippine International Trading Corp. (PITC) for their involvement in anomalous deals, and undelivered government supplies.
The DBM-PS and PITC serve as state purchasing arms which other government agencies contract, for a fee, to buy a wide range of goods, including personal protective equipment (PPE) during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.
These agencies created the “pasa-buy” scheme in government purchases, which intended to save cost for bulk purchases of quality goods.
“Pagdating sa aberya sa procurement, dalawang ahensya ang laging starring sa COA reports. Itong PS-DBM at PITC (When it comes to problems in procurement, there are two agencies who are always starring in COA reports. This is the PS-DBM and PITC),” Recto said in a statement.
The PITC is an agency under the Department of Trade of Industry (DTI).
The lawmaker made the call after noting the spate of Commission on Audit (COA) reports linking the DBM-PS to questionable transactions, the latest of which are the procurement of P2.4-billion of “outdated” laptops for the Department of Education (DepEd).
The DBM-PS was also the agency linked to the multi-billion deal with Pharmally Pharmaceuticals that led to a Senate inquiry into the purchase of substandard PPEs.
Recto said that the Marcos administration should end this scheme in government purchases because it already created two “mega parking lots” of funds responsible for slow procurement of goods at higher prices.
“There would have been no problem if the involvement of the two had led to faster procurement of quality goods at cheaper prices. But the opposite had happened,” he added.
According to the lawmaker, the DBM-PS and PITC owed their client government agencies P63.1 billion worth – almost evenly split between the two – of undelivered goods, equipment, and infrastructure as of August last year.
This amount represented “unutilized deposits and advance payments of government agencies,” Recto explained.
“Read the COA reports and cry. Some of the equipment were supposed have been delivered five years before but were still in the bidding stage,” he said.
The amount does not, however, include “delivery slippages of equipment and consumables used to fight the Covid pandemic which have been marred by allegations of irregularities.”
Recto lamented that the two agencies “last-minute dumping grounds of about-to-expire allotments of agencies.”
The funds, which should return to the national treasury, are parked at these two agencies to “extend the life of funds.”
“Tulad ng sinabi ko doon sa Senado, hindi naman procurement expertise ang dahilan kung bakit sila napapasahan ng pondo. Ang totoong dahilan ay upang huwag abutan ng deadline at mapaso ang mga pondo ng mga ahenysa (As what I said in the Senate, it is not procurement exercise that’s the reason they receive funds. The true reason is so that the deadline won’t lapse and the agencies’ funds won’t expire),” Recto said.
The lawmaker also raised the issue of expertise against the two agencies.
He hit both the DBM-PS and PITC for lacking the “technical expertise” to assess bids.
“Kung aircraft, may piloto ba ang DBM at DTI? Kelan pa sila naging eksperto sa train? Or ilan ba ang in-house doctors nila para masabi nila na ang ganitong medical equipment ang pinakamahusay (If aircraft, do the DBM and DTI have a pilot? Since when did they become experts in train? Or how many in-house doctors do they have to say that this medical equipment is the best)?” he asked.
The Marcos administration should instead revert to the old system where the end-users conduct the bidding, meaning DepEd should handle the procurement of laptops for teachers and the Department of National Defense (DND) should manage the bidding for military hardware.