Lawmaker wants PS-DBM abolished amid corruption allegations
MANILA, Philippines — A congressman from Mindanao has sought the abolition of the Procurement Service-Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) amid allegations of corruption as separate investigations into its purchase of allegedly overpriced pandemic goods continue in both chambers of Congress.
Deputy Speaker and Cagayan de Oro 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said Monday that he has filed House Bill No. 10222, which aims to allow government agencies to do their own procurements instead of asking PS-DBM to do it for them.
PS-DBM’s mandate is to buy common-use supplies like pens, papers, and other materials used by various government offices in bulk in order to save funds. However, PS-DBM’s involvement in the procurement of supposedly expensive face masks and face shields in 2020 has put it in the spotlight of congressional inquiries.
“The PS-DBM has also been hounded by allegations of improper procedure and overpriced acquisitions,” Rodriguez said in a statement.
“(The office has faced) many issues and controversies, the most recent of which was the transfer of P42 billion by the Department of Health for face shields, face masks, personal protective equipment, and other Covid-19 pandemic-related purchases,” he added.
The motu proprio investigations being done by the House of Representatives and the Senate have centered on a Commission on Audit (COA) report that showed expenditures worth P67.32 billion of the Department of Health’s (DOH) COVID-19 funds last year were found with deficiencies.
The amount included the P42 billion funds transferred by DOH to procuring agencies like the PS-DBM. The Senate blue ribbon committee pounced on the contracts worth at least P8.7 billion awarded by PS-DBM to Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp., which only has a start-up capital of P625,000.
It was also revealed that Pharmally sold face masks at a higher price of P27 each compared to local suppliers like the EMS Components Assembly Inc. which offered the same item at P13.50.
While past and present PS-DBM officials like former officer-in-charge and undersecretary Christopher Lloyd Lao defended their procurement of pandemic supplies, Rodriguez maintained that new laws tightening procurement measures have made PS-DBM irrelevant.
“The 1987 Constitution, which directs the state to ‘maintain honesty and integrity in the public service and to take positive and effective measures against graft and corruption,’ and Republic Act No. 9184, or the Government Procurement Reform Act, have made the PS-DBM irrelevant and redundant,” the legislator pointed out.
“However, the passage of RA 9184 undermines the mandate of the PS-DBM through the inclusion of relevant provisions that strengthen the procurement service of national government agencies,” he also stressed.
If House Bill No. 10222 is enacted into law, PS-DBM would be given a year to make an inventory of available products so that these can be distributed to agencies. But during the period, no more procurements would be made by PS-DBM.
Other funds allocated to PS-DBM would then be reverted to the national treasury. And in terms of affected employees, they would be paid separation and retirement benefits under existing laws.
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