Kiko urges Palace to transfer P33.4-B ‘parked funds’ to COVID vaccine
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan called on the Palace to issue an executive order to transfer back to the national treasury the P33.4-billion funds parked in the bank accounts of the Philippine International Trading Corporation (PITC) and use it to buy COVID-19 vaccines for Filipinos.
Pangilinan made the remark Wednesday after Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon called on the upper chamber to compel the PICT to revert the amount to the national coffers.
“Since the PITC is under the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), it is in the realm of executive action to order the immediate return of the said amounts,” Pangilinan said in a statement.
“And because we are in search of funds to purchase vaccines, then an executive order that mandates the return of these funds to the National Treasury is well within the powers of the Executive,” the senator added.
With the amount, Pangilinan also said the government need not secure loans or if still needed, does not have to apply for a huge amount of loans that could further plunge the Filipinos into indebtedness.
“Ang dali-dali nitong gawin. Hanap tayo nang hanap ng pera para sa COVID vaccines at kung anu-ano pang mga pangangailangan ng ating kapwa Pilipino, e nandito na ang naka-park lang na P33.4 billion,” Pangilinan said.
(It’s so easy to do. We keep looking for money for the COVID-19 vaccines and other needs of Filipinos when there is already P33.4 billion in parked funds.)
During Tuesday’s interpellation, Pangilinan also confirmed from Drilon that the P33.4 billion is in banks or in money market placements, appearing as assets of PITC and earning billions of interest.
“Para silang naghihilamos sa pera o naliligo sa perang naririyan sa kanila,” Pangilinan said.
(They appear to be swimming in the money that they have.)
On Pangilinan’s questioning, Drilon also said that the money could have been sleeping with PITC for years.
“In effect, your CEO or whoever is in charge is like a glorified parking attendant rather than a trading expert because of all the money that is being parked,” Pangilinan said.
As to plans to have PITC undertake the COVID-19 vaccine procurement, Pangilinan said the capacity of the corporation to deliver results is questionable.
“Why bring that much fund to purchase vaccines into an entity that has failed miserably in delivering in terms of purchasing or utilizing funds in the last 10 years?” Pangilinan said.
The senator added that the corporation’s failure to utilize the appropriated P33.4 billion could be also a “gross and inexcusable negligence” on the part of its officials.
“I’ll leave that matter to be pondered upon when we go into the committee hearings,” Pangilinan said. With a report from Miguel Dumlao, INQUIRER.net trainee
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