COA chief backs bills to abolish PS-DBM, PITC

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 10) – The head of the Commission on Audit (COA) expressed support for legislative bills seeking the abolition of the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) and the Philippine International Trading Corporation (PITC).

"I would support the measures that have been filed (to abolish PS-DBM and PITC) and I would be very willing to provide some suggestions on changing the nature by which we procure common-use supplies to make it less susceptible to any kind of alleged corruption," COA Chairman Michael Aguinaldo told senators during a hearing on government spending for the COVID-19 pandemic on Friday.

Aguinaldo was responding to a question by Sen. Joel Villanueva.

"Dapat tanong natin uli sa kanila, what are we here for? Nandito tayo para bantayan ang kaban ng bayan. Kung hindi natin ito nagagawa, kung hindi nakakatipid at nakakatulong sa ating mga ahensya, then we might as well abolish these," Villanueva said.

[Translation: We should ask these agencies again, what are we here for? We are here to keep an eye on our national funds. If they can't do it, if they are not helping agencies to save, then we might as well abolish these.]

Senators grilled former PS-DBM executive director Christopher Lao and several officials of Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. over the allegedly anomalous purchase of medical supplies needed for the country's pandemic response, despite the Taiwanese firm's financial "incapability."

Earlier, lawmakers investigated the transfer of ₱41 billion made by the Department of Health to the PS-DBM for the purchase of COVID-19 supplies.

Meanwhile, COA flagged the PITC for opting to award multi-million peso contracts to a Davao City-based supplier of personal protective equipment despite lower bids from other companies. 

Sen. Imee Marcos filed two bills this week seeking to abolish the PS-DBM and the PITC due to "systemic corruption" in the two government entities.

"The PS-DBM has become a fertile breeding ground of graft and corruption and, as such, should be abolished as it has outlived its functions to the National Government," she said.

Marcos added that the PITC - which was founded during his father, Ferdinand Sr.'s regime - has become "irrelevant" as trade liberalization is now the norm of the global economy.

"The PITC became a repository for unobligated funds of national government agencies, and as such should be abolished," Marcos said.