MANILA – Amid mounting calls to abolish the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM), a high-ranking official on Tuesday appealed to Congress to give the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. a chance to reform the agency.

PS-DBM Executive Director Dennis Santiago echoed the appeal made by Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman in allowing them to institute reforms.

“Please allow the new administration to reform and transform the agency and provide efficiency and economy in the acquisition of common-use supplies and equipment (CSE), which we intend to focus on as part of our mandate,” Santiago said in a press statement.

On August 16, the PS-DBM suspended the procurement of non-CSE “effective immediately” as part of efforts to improve their processes.

During the suspension, the PS-DBM shall not accept new requests for non-CSE procurement until further notice.

Marami pong mabuting magagawa ang PS-DBM sa pamamagitan ng pagbili ng maayos at may-kalidad na mga produkto na palagiang ginagamit ng mga ahensya ng gobyerno (The PS-DBM can do a lot of good by purchasing good quality products that are regularly used by government agencies),” Santiago said.

He explained that the procurement arm’s mandate of making bulk purchases is beneficial because it would guarantee cheaper prices and influence the production of quality equipment. It will also allow agencies to focus on their respective projects, programs, and activities.

Santiago reiterated his call for lawmakers to be “tempered with understanding,” noting that many dedicated and well-meaning employees have ably served PS-DBM for many decades now.

“Please trust the new PS-DBM administration. Allow us to introduce and institute reforms in PS-DBM. Hayaan po ninyo kaming ayusin at linisin ang sistema at proseso dito (Allow us to fix and clean up the systems and processes here). We want to bring back to PS-DBM its old glory. Higit sa lahat, nais naming manumbalik ang tiwala at kumpiyansa ninyo sa PS-DBM (Above all, we want to restore your trust and confidence in PS-DBM),” he said.

He also acknowledged the sentiment of groups and lawmakers, saying he shared their clamor for “zero tolerance” against irregularities in government.

‘Unauthorized’ high-yield investment

Santiago also assured that the PS-DBM is reviewing its audit observation memorandum (AOM) from the Commission on Audit (COA) after it flagged more than PHP3 billion worth of high-yield investment in government banks, saying it is unauthorized and executed outside of its mandate.

The COA said the PS-DBM failed to revert the investment to the general fund of the Bureau of the Treasury in violation of Executive Order 431 dated May 30, 2004.

“We are already reviewing the audit observation on the high-yield savings account and shall revert to COA to address the AOM. The amount of PHP3 billion is intact, and I am for the return of the money to the national treasury soon as we have properly clarified the nature of the funds with COA,” Santiago said.

Setting things right

Meanwhile, Santiago assured lawmakers that efforts to “fix” the agency are ongoing.

He said reforms in the PS-DBM’s acquisition paradigm could be done by embracing the targeted purchase of CSEs; price development based on realistic canvass; and the adoption of procurement and contracting modalities that are fit for purpose.

Santiago said supply chain management; implementation of electronic procurement platforms, such as, eBidding, eReverse Auction, and eShopping; human resource development and capacity building; implementation of green public procurement; and supplier partnership and management could also be done as part of efforts to institute reforms in the procurement arm.

“We will not institute reforms to impress. We will implement the reforms to set things right and to clean the systems and processes in the agency,” he said.

DBM Undersecretary Joselito Basilio earlier said the agency remains open to dialogue with the President, legislators, and stakeholders to address issues hounding its purchasing arm.

Lawmakers belonging to the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives earlier refiled a measure seeking the abolition of the PS-DBM, which has been flagged by state auditors for questionable transactions.

House Bill 3270 seeks to abolish the PS-DBM for "being involved in so many anomalies," citing the PHP2.4 billion purchase of “pricey yet outdated” laptops for teachers and the PHP42 billion funding used to buy “overpriced” medical supplies during the onset of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic. (PNA)