MANILA, Philippines – House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr questioned why the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) led the procurement for P168-billion transportation projects in 2018, his latest attack against Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno.
On Wednesday, January 16, Andaya zeroed in on the Procurement Service of the DBM (PS-DBM), whose executive director Bingle Gutierrez admitted in a House hearing the day before that her office procured P168 billion worth of DOTr projects in 2018. These include big ticket projects like subways, railways, and airports.
“I asked her the mandate of the office and that she told me that the mandate was for the procurement of commonly used goods and supplies for the national government to the tune of P7 billion every year. So DBM does implement projects for the national government to the tune of P7 billion,” said Andaya in a press conference.
“But upon further questioning, we have found out, and upon voluntarily giving the information by the director, she had admitted that, that particular little office also did procurement for 20 other departments, the biggest of which in 2018 would be the DOTr to the amount of P168 billion for just one year. And the budget of the DOTr for capital outlay last year was only P38 billion. So how could you now have done that?” asked the House Majority Leader.
Andaya said Diokno – whom the Majority Leader has been accusing of corruption – should explains this, as the DOTr is capable of bidding out its own projects.
“Would not the DOTr have the expertise to have these projects procured? They would have the engineers, they would have the know-how. Why put it in an office which has no mandate to do these because their mandate is only for the procurement of papers, ball pens and paperclips. They have totally no expertise on these matter,” said Andaya.
But DOTr Assistant Secretary for procurement Giovanni Lopez told Rappler there is nothing anomalous about the bidding process that the DBM conducted.
He said it was acutally the DOTr that sought the PS-DBM’s help.
What is the PS-DBM? According to its operations manual, PS-DBM is tasked with the centralized procurement of commonly used supplies and equipment needed by the government.
Lopez explained that Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act allows government agencies to have a procuring agent.
“The Procurement Service-Department of Budget and Management was established precisely for that purpose,” said the DOTr official.
How did DBM end up procuring items for DOTr? Lopez said his department “deemed it judicious and prudent” to seek the PS-DBM’s help given the sheer number of DOTr projects that needed to be completed under the administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program.
“It is a cooperation between the two agencies to expedite the procurement for BBB priority projects, in order for them to be implemented swiftly for the benefit of the public,” said Lopez.
He then clarified that technical experties on the projects to be procured still resides with the DOTr, as it sends official representatives to the PS-DBM’s bids and awards committee and technical working group.
“This is evidenced by the fact that the Terms of Reference and bidding documents for the subject projects continue to originate from the DOTr as the implementing agency,” said Lopez. – with reports from Aika Rey/Rappler