“Fertile ground for corruption.
This is how Senator Risa Hontiveros described the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget Management (PS-DBM) after the Commission on Audit (COA) flagged billions in allegedly irregular purchases made by the department.
Hontiveros made the statement Thursday before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, which was conducting a hearing on overpriced laptops purchased for the Department of Education (DepEd) by the PS-DBM.
“The PS-DBM is a breeding ground for inefficiency, negligence and corruption,” said the opposition senator.
In 2021 alone, Hontiveros noted that COA uncovered irregularities as well as questionable transactions by PS-DBM worth 6.5 billion pesos based on their reports.
“In Hindi pa kumpleto ang mga COA reports niyan (And COA reports are not even finished yet). What has been discovered so far is just the tip of the iceberg. Mukhang nakasanayan na ng PS-DBM ang modus nola (It looks like PS-DBM is already used to this mode),” she added.
According to Hontiveros, “the fact that this spans multiple agencies is a huge red flag.”
“So many government programs are impacted by this, and for a pandemic year on top of that. Ang dami sana nating nagawa at natulungan,” she lamented.
In its 2021 annual report, the COA reported to the PS-DBM its inability to provide proof of purchase or non-delivery of items amounting to the following: 1.696 billion pesos between 2010 and 2021 for the police Philippine National Authority (PNP), P795.7 million for the Department of Agrarian Reform, P704.9 million for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and P60.36 million for the Department of information and technology (DTI). The value of 2.4 billion pesos of overpriced laptops for the DepEd and 185.6 million pesos of shortcomings in the distribution by PS-DBM of COVID-19 articles in relation to the Ministry of Health (DOH) were also included in the report.
The COA also reported unliquidated amounts of PS-DBM transactions for the following agencies: BFAR at P31.1M, Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries at P22.73M, Philippine Trade Training Center at P11.828M , Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority at P8,975. -million, mining and geosciences under the DENR at 8.125 million pesos, the Philippine Construction Industry Authority at 3.192 million pesos, the National Water Resources Council at 176,000 pesos and 1.646 million pesos for previous years, Board of Investments at 1.053 million pesos and 635,570 pesos for previous years, and NAMRIA attached to DENR at 358,802.68 pesos.
The independent auditing agency reported that significant unused or surplus advances in the PS-DBM budget were not remitted to the Treasury Office: 511.37 million pesos for the Office of Fire Protection , 22.99 million pesos undelivered under the Philippine Navy, P17. 5 million for the Public Prosecutor’s Office (PAO), 13.86 million pesos for the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) and 10.64 million pesos unreturned for the Bureau of Immigration.
Thus, Hontiveros expressed “firm” support for calls by her fellow senators to abolish the PS-DBM, although she believes this is “only the first step”. She said it was “urgent”.
Hontiveros said she will table a resolution for consideration by the Senate to abolish the PS-DBM and investigate all of its dealings. She also urged the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to review the COA reports.
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