Commission on Audit chair backs Senate bills abolishing PS-DBM, PITC

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 10 2021 11:08 PM

MANILA - Commission on Audit (COA) chairperson Michael Aguinaldo on Friday agreed with several Senate proposals seeking to abolish 2 procuring agencies in the bureaucracy, saying the country needs to "change the way it procures common use supplies."

Sen. Imee Marcos earlier filed bills seeking to abolish the Department of Budget and Management's Procurement Service (PS-DBM) and the Philippine International Trading Corporation (PITC), alleging that "systemic corruption" has crippled the agencies.

"From what I've seen, I would join the several bills filed seeking the abolition of PITC and PS-DBM," Aguinaldo said when asked for his opinion during a Senate Blue Ribbon Committee investigation.

"I would support the measures that have been filed, changing the nature by which we procure common use supplies in particular by making it less susceptible to any kind of alleged corruption of the like," he said.

COA earlier flagged the transfer of P42 billion from the Department of Health to the PS-DBM without proper documentation.

Senate investigations later on found out that a portion of the fund was used to procure overpriced face masks and RT-PCR test kits from Pharmally, a foreign company that had questionable registration documents and insufficient capital to procure billions-worth of pandemic supplies for the Philippine government.

The Philippines' current procurement law may also have to be amended as "it's too focused on accountability at the expense of efficiency," the COA chief said.

"Maganda siguro may konting balance in efficiency and accountability," he said.

(it would be good if we can have some balance between efficiency and accountability.)

"It's high time we look at the way how we procure," he said.

Sen. Joel Villanueva also criticized the current procurement system after an official from the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System (PhilGEPS) said it is not responsible for checking the financial and technical capacity of Pharmally and other corporations who won public contracts.

"We don't check the document if they are financially capable or if they are technically capable," said PhilGEPS Dir. Rosa Maria Clemente.

"It is the BAC's (Bids and Awards Committee) responsibility. The PhilGEPS is just a registry of suppliers that we check in the system if the documents are correct," she said.

Villanueva said the country's screening system for bidders is useless.

"You can easily figure out that there are red flags already by simply looking at the audited financial statements," he said, noting that PhilGEPS even upgradee Pharmally's bidder status to platinum.

Senators are expected to include Aguinaldo's observations in the recommendations of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, and tackle measures seeking the abolition of PITC and PS-DBM in a separate hearing.

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