Budget battles: DBM unit bid out P168-B in 'Dengvaxia-like' scheme, Andaya claims

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 17 2019 11:04 AM | Updated as of Jan 17 2019 11:21 AM

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MANILA - A "little office" under the Department of Budget and Management has bid out and implemented billions worth of projects despite its mother agency not having a mandate to do so, a lawmaker claimed Thursday.

The Procurement Service, an attached agency of the DBM, "bid out subway, train, major airports [projects] to the tune of P168 billion," said Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr.

The director of the unit, Bingle Gutierrez, who Secretary Benjamin Diokno appointed to the post, gave a "voluntary testimony" on the issue, said the Camarines Sur representative who also previously served as budget chief.

This belies Diokno's claim that his office does not implement projects, said Andaya. The lawmaker previously alleged the Cabinet official favored his in-laws in selecting contractors for some projects in the Bicol region.

"This is Dengvaxia all over again. Remember, DOH has a big allocation for immunization shots and it was implemented in a little known office? It’s the same thing, except this one is bigger and the office is even smaller," he told ANC's Headstart.

In a news conference on Wednesday, Andaya said Gutierrez admitted that her office also did procurement for 20 other departments - the biggest of which in 2018 would be the Department of Transportation.

"Would the DOTr not have the expertise to have these projects procured? They would have engineers, they would have the know-how. Why put it in the office which has no mandate to do this because their mandate is only for the procurement of papers, ballpens, paper clips? They have totally no expertise," he told reporters.

Andaya said he would "eventually" file charges against Diokno, but he would not seek a temporary restraining order against the implementation of the projects.

"It’s just putting on record that when the time comes—and the time will come, I’ve seen it all these years—that these contracts will be questioned, and let it be known that we already saw that and if you want to get the details, we have the papers," he said in the interview.

'BASELESS ALLEGATIONS'

Diokno said apart from buying common-use supplies of the entire government, the PS also acts as a procurement agent or the bids and awards committee of the implementing agencies

The unit, which is attached to the DBM only for "administrative supervision," only handles the actual bidding of the projects which agencies request for the PS to bid out, Diokno said in a statement.

"The PS does not award the projects, it only recommends the award of contract by the head of procuring entity (HOPE)or agency head. The said recommendation is, as provided by law, subject to the approval or disapproval of the HOPE," he said.

It acts as a "procurement agent" for most of DOTr projects, but it is still Secretary Arthur Tugade who signs the contracts, the terms of which are prepared by his own people, said Diokno.

"All these are contained in a MOA between DOTR and DBM-PS. The purpose is to make contracting quicker. I have no participation in the whole process," he said in a separate statement.

The office does not handle payment to contractors or suppliers nor any aspect of contract implementation, which remains to be the responsibility of the implementation agencies, he said.

It has "maintained the integrity of the bidding process by faithfully implementing the provisions of the procurement law" as proven by the number of successfully bidded projects by the PS and the sustained confidence by the agencies in its ability to procure for them, Diokno said.

"The PS operations is well within and is in fact in accord with the mandate and directives of the laws cited. Directly contradicting the baseless allegations of Congressman Andaya," his statement read.

- with a report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News