Senator, former PS-DBM chief disagree on MOA requirement for DOH's ₱42-B transfer

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 25) — A lawmaker questioned the lack of a memorandum of agreement between the Department of Health and the Department of Budget and Management’s procurement service during the DOH’s fund transfer of over ₱40 billion for the purchase of PPEs.

“I am sorry but what you are saying is contrary to the implementing rules and regulations of the Procurement Act,” Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon told resigned DBM Usec. Lloyd Christopher Lao during a Senate hearing on Wednesday.

Drilon was referring to Lao’s remarks at the hearing that there was no need to sign an MOA for the fund transfer. According to Lao, the DBM procurement arm was already authorized by the Government Procurement Policy Board (GPPB) to purchase medical items tagged as common-use supplies.

“There is nothing there which dispenses with the execution of the MOA which is necessary so that there can be a documentary tracing of this disbursement,” said Drilon, who also cited the Government Procurement Reform Act’s Section 7.3.3.

The section says purchasing entities without the ability to perform a certain procurement as determined by their respective heads may outsource such tasks to other agencies through the execution of a MOA.

The MOA shall contain “specific arrangements, stipulations, and covenants, in accordance with government budgeting, accounting and auditing rules.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Panfilo Lacson noted the PS-DBM which Lao used to head did not have authority to procure face shields as these weren’t included in the list of items the DOH sought to be tagged as common use.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III reiterated that the department tapped the PS-DBM for procurement of COVID-19-related items for medical workers, citing a “whole of government” approach while recounting how the agency’s own bids and awards committee struggled to come up with bidders during the pandemic’s onset.

Lawmakers have been grilling the DOH and DBM on last year's purchase of what they said were overpriced face masks and shields, and health authorities’ transfer of ₱42 billion to the budget agency.