Amid controversy, DTI chief says PITC ‘has nothing to hide’
MANILA, Philippines — Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez on Friday said the Philippine International Trading Center (PITC) has “nothing to hide” following controversies hounding it over the P33 billion in public funds supposedly sitting idle in its accounts.
Citing reports and documents sent to him, Lopez said all funds pending with the PITC, a firm under the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), are either for ongoing procurement or for awarded projects.
“Hence, not idle…As proven by documents like the Agency Outsourcing Request (AOR), all funds transferred are fully accounted [for] and used for the procurement of the goods and services,” Lopez told INQUIRER.net in a message.
“The records are, as they say, are the best evidence. PITC has nothing to hide. Its funds and operations are strictly audited by the COA (Commission on Audit),” he added.
Lopez, chair of the PITC board, recently earned the ire of Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, who accused him of turning a “blind eye” on the billions of pesos “parked” in the accounts of the state-run trading firm.
It was Drilon who earlier flagged the P33-billion “parked” funds in the PITC.
“I am definitely not turning a blind eye, since I will be the first to investigate if there are signs of anomaly,” Lopez said.
“For transparency, I have asked PITC to provide those documents, including the breakdown and status of the P33 billion, to Sen. Drilon,” he added.
The PITC handles export trading, customs bonded warehousing, countertrade and imports trading, and procurement services. It oversees and responds to the procurement needs of different government agencies.
Aside from flagging the said amount, Drilon also raised the possibility of the PITC being used as a “pawn” by various government agencies to dodge budget rules and procurement laws.
“We don’t tolerate corruption. Never. PITC has a mandate that it is implementing to the best of its ability, and it has instituted reforms, under this administration, precisely to address those concerns,” Lopez said.
“I immediately took action based on the statements of the good [s]enators,” he added.
Further, he said the PITC has been making remittances to the national treasury “growing amount of dividends.”
“Before 2016, PITC was negative and losing but is now reflecting positive operations i.e. from P38 million in 2016 to P324 million in 2019,” the DTI chief said.
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