Deputy Speaker and Batangas 6th District Rep. Ralph Recto placed Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman on the spot as he called on the newly appointed chief to include in her reforms the scrapping of the controversial procurement service of her department.
The veteran lawmaker also urged President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to abolish 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.
“I have no doubt that the highly capable Secretary Pangandaman will do what is right,” Recto said in a statement, noting that the Commission on Audit (COA) regularly flagged the DBM-PS for irregularities in the procurement process.
The lawmaker said Pangandaman should have no worries about conducting a “post mortem on delayed and bungled” procurement activities of the DBM-PS because they did not happen under her watch.
“These are problems she inherited and I think that she will not allow these to continue,” Recto stressed.
“The DBM is under new management. With the change of guards comes a change of rules for the better,” he furthered.
Pangandaman should have “an exit plan” to phase down DBM-PS’ big ticket procurement activities, the lawmaker suggested.
READ: ‘Scrap DBM procurement service, PITC’ — Rep. Recto
Procurements already in the final stage should be allowed to continue but those in the early stages should be returned to the sender, or the government agency making the purchase.
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.
The latest controversy involving DBM-PS was the procurement of P2.4-billion of “outdated” laptops for the Department of Education (DepEd).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.
In the statement, Recto put the pressure on the new Budget chief because any drive to reforming the Procurement Service should begin with DBM leadership’s commitment “to reject orders and pressures from above or anywhere that they conduct the bidding of goods, the nature of which are beyond their technical skills to evaluate.”
“’Yan ang simula. Na huwag hayaan ang PS gamitin bilang isang (That’s the start. Not to let PS become a) parking lot of funds, or a facility to extend the validity of fund allotments,” Recto said, referring to how government agencies send their funds to the DBM-PS when they are about to expire instead of sending it back to the national treasury.
Although the lawmaker recognized the value of DBM-PS as an agency that can save taxpayers money through bulk-buying of common-use supplies and equipment, he lamented how it strayed from its original mandate.
“But when it was forced to become a ‘central buying politburo’, doon na nagkaproblema (that’s when it became a problem),” he said.