PS-DBM is a catastrophe (4)

The P67.3-billion funds of the Department of Health for its response to the pandemic figured most prominently.

September 12, 2022

The Department of Budget and Management must never be allowed to participate in procurement services again. What was envisioned under Letter of Instruction 755 by our country-loving forebears to be a noble idea to save taxpayer’s money was converted into an extra means of livelihood of DBM through its unscrupulous technicians, who had a hand in the awarding of bids, contracts, and implementation of projects funded through its chaotic allotment and disbursement system, leading to misuse and loss of the huge amount of government funds.

It was unfortunate that PS was authorized to conduct procurement of non-common use items for various government agencies, through the implementing rules and regulations of Republic Act 9184, or the procurement law, as in the procurement by PS of P198.8 billion worth of goods and services.

Either by PS under LoI 755 or PS through the IRR of RA 9184, what came out through both PS procurements were corruption-cooked “potatoes” that went into the pockets of the few unscrupulous executives.

One of the visible, solid, and incontrovertible evidence of the irregularities involving the loss of a huge amount of government funds through chaotic funding of government projects is the Annual Audit Report on the Department of Budget and Management for the year ended 31 December 2021.

CoA reports provide prima facie evidence, including expenditures during the pandemic involving PS-DBM.

The P67.3-billion funds of the Department of Health for its response to the pandemic figured most prominently. The opposition used it as the most noisome issue against the Duterte administration. CoA flagged it for irregularities in the procurement process, procedural deficiencies, lack of proper documentation, poor planning resulting in unutilized, unobligated, and inefficient utilization of funds, and non-compliance with pertinent laws and established regulations. At the height of the opposition’s criticism, some senators called for the resignation of Secretary Francisco Duque III.

But the CoA audit report was found to be a mere compilation of audit observation memoranda. According to keen observers, this weakened the position of CoA into an embarrassment, because AOMs are not yet processed CoA documents, not for release to the public.

This gave President Duterte a valid reason for his suggestion that CoA can continue its mandate, but refrain from publishing its findings, as doing so would taint agencies with “corruption perception.”

Duterte was widely criticized by the opposition for allegedly suppressing the corruption perception of the public of his administration. But the people’s reaction to all this criticism against the president was their excellent acceptance of his administration.

The following adverse findings of the auditors may constitute prima facie evidence:

Unliquidated PS-DBM transactions: BFAR at P31 million; Philippine Council for Aquatic and Fisheries at P223.73 million; and Philippine Trade Training Center at P11.828 million.

CoA also reported that unutilized or excess advances in the PS-DBM budget were not remitted to the Bureau of Treasury: P511.37 million for the Bureau of Fire Protection; P22.99 million undelivered for the Philippine Navy; P175 million for the Public Attorney’s Office; P13.86 million for the Philippine Information Agency; and P10.64 million for the Bureau of Immigration.

CoA’s report for 2021 disclosed that PS-DBM failed to provide proof of purchases and figured in the non-delivery of items as follows: P1,696 billion between 2010 and 2021; P795.7 million for the Department of Agrarian Reform; P704.9 million for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources; and P60.36 million for the Department of Technology and Information.

In view of the foregoing disclosures, it would be best for the government to abolish the PS-DBM and never to allow it to reemerge in some other form, if only to save the leaders of the entire national government from being blamed because unwittingly, they were being given a ride by their few unscrupulous colleagues.

Release the national state agencies, corporate bodies, and most especially the local governments from the bidding requirements of the PS-DBM. The national government should allow them to procure through their own bids and awards committees.

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