November 20, 2020
Drilon urges Senate to look into PITC
Drilon sounds alarm over the agency’s ‘penchant not to return public money citing COA report that says that PITC owes various government agencies P9.176 billion in balances
A relatively unknown state firm until recently, the Philippine International Trading Center (PITC) appears to be the go-to corporation by government agencies to park their unutilized funds, according to Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon.
But what appalled Drilon more is the discovery that a little-known procurement agency, the PITC, is keeping billions of pesos in taxpayers’ money through undelivered services and unreturned balances that could go as far back as 2009.
Upon Drilon’s interpellation of the budget of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, it was revealed that the PITC owes the AFP a total of P9.6 billion as of October this year.
The P9.6 billion has been “sleeping” in PITC since 2017, it was revealed. Of which, P6.3 billion is the balance owed by PITC to Philippine Army, P1.9 billion to Philippine Navy, P736 million to Philippine Air Force, and P582 million to AFP General Headquarters.
“I think Senator Lacson would agree with me that there should be a more detailed examination of this setup. I am appalled that P9.6 billion at least is in PITC’s hands. The money is sleeping there,” Drilon said.
The Senate chief fiscalizer asked the Senate to look into the issues on PITC.
“I am confident that the Senate President and the Senate Majority Leader will support this move, because this is something that is really unusual,” he said.
“Honestly, I do not know anymore the extent of funds sleeping in the coffers of PITC. I think this requires a closer scrutiny,” Drilon said, citing similar incidents involving PITC.
“In the PITC, there is a military procurement group. May group para sa military purchases because, apparently, regular customer military, he noted.
In a statement, Drilon expressed alarm at the agency’s “penchant not to return public money” citing a Commission on Audit (COA) report which says that PITC owes various government agencies P9.176 billion in balances.
Citing the COA report, Drilon said the P9.176 billion refers to the balances of fund transfers from various agencies from 2009 to 2019 which remained unutilized as of December 2019.
The procuring agency also owed the Philippine National Police around P1.347 billion in undelivered equipment, Drilon underscored.
“This is bothersome. This agency is tasked to procure Covid-19 vaccines for Filipinos.
The PITC is the state firm that will import vaccines for Covid-19 worth P20 billion. The PITC will earn a commission of anywhere between 1 to 5 percent or from P200 million to P1 billion, Drilon noted.
The “commission” being charged by PITC to procuring agencies such as AFP also baffled Drilon and other senators.
Drilon said the commission should come from the servicing agency or the seller where the goods or services will be procured.
“Why? Why is the commission taken from the procuring agency? Shouldn’t the commission come from the servicing company?” he asked.