MANILA -- The Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) is under Congress scrutiny anew, even as it remains controversial for the COVID-19 response fund transfers it received from the Department of Health (DOH).
During a House Appropriations Committee hearing, Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate asked the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) why it is asking for more funds to buy 104 fire trucks, when it has more than P4.1 billion in "parked funds" with the Philippine International Trading Corporation (PITC) and the PS-DBM.
"P4 billion, naka-park lang doon sa PS-DBM, naka-park lang doon sa PITC. Hindi nila na-deliver sa procurement agency na BFP. They failed to deliver it. Napakalimitado ng ating resources at bilyon na bilyon ang nandyan lang sa mga procuring agencies na ito - PITC and PS-DBM," Zarate said.
"Mukhang napakalaking parking lot talaga nitong PITC at PS-DBM ng pondo ng pamahalaan, mula DOH, Department of National Defense, Department of Energy pati DILG. Dito inilalagak ang mga pondo. Pero kung 'di overpriced ay 'di naman nagagamit ang pera."
"Dapat na talagang i-review ang papel ng mga procurement agencies na ito dahi nagiging parang parking lot lang sila ng malalaking pondo na nasasayang at puwedeng naging pugad lang din ng kurapsyon," said Zarate.
While there is a push for the modernization of the BFP, the DILG should first judiciously use its funds for the purchase of equipment, he said.
"For every emergency equipment not procured efficiently, potentially more damage to life and property will happen."
Zarate said he might make a push to dissolve the PITC and PS-DBM as they may be "havens" of corruption.
"Babantayan namin ang isyung ito at itutulak na buwagin na ang PITC at PS-DBM dahil hindi lamang ito nagiging pugad ng korapsyon pero sinasayang pa nito ang pera ng mamamayan," he said.
BFP officer-in-charge Louie Puracan confirmed that in 2015, 2016, and 2017, the procurement for firefighting equipment was done by PS-DBM.
Puracan said that in 2015, 28 fire trucks amounting to P440 million were bought through the PS-DBM and PITC. In 2016 and 2017, 126 firetrucks were procured.
Puracan said that from 2018 to 2021, the procurement was done within the bureau.
He admitted that the procurements in 2015 to 2017 remain undisbursed and undelivered by the PITC and the PS-DBM.
DILG Secretary Eduardo Año explained that he already saw this problem when he joined the department. He said this is why he ordered the BFP not to use the PITC and PS-DBM for procurement anymore.
Año said they have been asking PS-DBM and PITC to return the funds.