MANILA – The resolution seeking for the abolition of the Procurement Service - Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) due to questionable contracts is gaining support but the Senate is still open to reforms in the agency.
In radio interviews on Sunday, Senator Francis Tolentino said all government agencies and local government units must use their own Bids and Awards Committees, instead of getting the services of the PS-DBM, while Senator Risa Hontiveros said the agency is a breeding ground for corruption.
“The PS-DBM was created to procure materials and things that are commonly used by government agencies but it seems the agency is now in control of all procurements,” Tolentino said.
Tolentino and Hontiveros said the PS-DBM is in danger of getting zero budget as abolishing it will take some time.
“I support my colleagues para buwagin ang PS-DBM pero dapat imbestigahan ang kanilang mga transaksyon dahil masyadong malaki. Isang paraan diyan ay ang pagbibigay ng zero budget pero sa ngayon ang prayoridad namn ay tukuyin ang mga personalidad dito para mabigyang hustisya ang taumbayan (I support my colleagues in abolishing the PS-DBM but we must investigate all transactions. One process is to give them zero budget but as of now, our priority is to identify the culprits and give justice to our countrymen),”Hontiveros said.
Last week, Senator Imee Marcos filed Senate Bill 1123 or An Act Abolishing the PS-DBM, saying “the series of procurement controversies that surfaced during the pandemic must end” and that it has outlived its usefulness.
“The PS-DBM acts as a procurement arm of other government agencies for the procurement of common-use supplies, equipment, and infrastructure projects,” Marcos explained. “However, the passage of the Government Procurement Reform Act undermines the mandate of the DBM-PS through the inclusion of relevant provisions that seek to strengthen the procurement service of national government agencies.”
The PS-DBM has been accused of overpricing in the procurement of PHP42 billion worth of medical equipment for the Department of Health last year and recently, PHP2.4 billion worth of teachers’ laptops for the Department of Education (DepEd).
However, the Senate may take into consideration the appeal of DBM Secretary Amenah Pangandaman to reform the agency.
“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, which we intend to focus on as part of our mandate,” according to a DBM press statement on August 30.
Hontiveros said they may ask for a special audit on all pandemic-related procurement deals among PS-DBM and other agencies since March 2020.
The Commission on Audit previously reported at least 12 government agencies or department had transactions with PS-DBM.
Senators Sherwin Gatchalian and Koko Pimentel have likewise suggested that government agencies stop dealing with the PS-DBM.
Meanwhile, Tolentino said the 17-member Blue Ribbon Committee will hold an executive session on Thursday to tackle the travel ban on Lloyd Christopher Lao, the former PS-DBM officer-in-charge.
Lao is no longer included in the DepEd laptop controversy but his signature was affixed in several other documents.
Lao had asked for a clearance and removal from the immigration lookout bulletin. (PNA)