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Senator Imee Marcos is pressing for greater direct procurement by national government agencies, ahead of an extended state of public health emergency and Congressional hearings on the 2023 national budget.

“The series of procurement controversies that surfaced during the pandemic must end. In fact, COA (Commission on Audit) has reported that they go back more than a decade,” Marcos said.

“We can step up emergency response with more direct purchases of supplies, equipment, and services. The government will also be able to avoid redundant allocations and save billions in next year’s national budget,” the senator added.

Marcos has revived her call to abolish the Procurement Service – Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) and the Philippine International Trading Corporation (PITC) via Senate bills 1122 and 1123, which she first asserted during the 18th Congress.

“Both agencies were created by my dad (former President Ferdinand Marcos) in the 70’s. But they have not only outlived their usefulness; they have in fact become agencies of malfeasance and corruption,” the senator said.

Marcos emphasized that the procurement services of national government agencies should instead be strengthened, in accordance with Republic Act 9184, or the Government Procurement Reform Act (GPRA).

The PS-DBM has faced allegations of overpricing in the procurement of Php42 billion worth of face masks, face shields, and personal protective equipment for the Department of Health last year and Php2.4 billion worth of teachers’ laptops for the Department of Education just last week.

Senator Marcos also questioned the PS-DBM’s practice of reselling equipment and supplies to national government agencies that funded their procurement.

Meanwhile, the PITC has become “a repository for  unobligated funds of national government agencies” that were avoiding the return of unused portions of their budget to the national treasury and using them to fund yearend bonuses.

The COA has flagged the PITC for about Php34 billion in idle funds from various national agencies, including those for procuring firetrucks and military supplies that had not been delivered for as long as six to eight years, “even as the GPRA recommends that procurements be completed in 136 days at most.”

“The original purpose of the PITC was to facilitate trade between socialist and other Centrally Planned Economy Countries, like the U.S.S.R. and China at the time, but only Cuba and North Korea remain as CPECs,” Marcos explained.