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House resumes probe of Budget ‘irregularities’

The House of Representatives’ committee on rules is resuming its inquiry into the alleged irregularities in the budgeting process today.

“As we conduct our next hearing on Monday, we will show that the DBM [Department of Budget and Management] earned billions from… anomalous transactions,” said House Majority Leader and Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr., who kept up his media attacks on Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, who has denied any wrongdoing.

Citing documents turned over to his panel by the executive director of DBM’s procurement service, Bingle Gutierrez, Andaya said the government would spend P37 billion to pay the consultants of big-ticket infrastructure projects.

He accused Diokno of turning his department into a “super-bidding body” that bid out P198 billion worth of projects in 2018 for 20 different government agencies under the Build, Build, Build program, including P168.275 billion from the Department of Transportation.

The committee on rules has invited Gutierrez to the hearing again, as well as Giovanni Lopez, assistant secretary for procurement at the DOTr.

Other officials invited were Junn Magno, general manager of the Philippine National Railways; Herminio del Rosario Jr., officer in charge of the PNR’s administrative and finance department; Eddie Monreal, general manager of the Manila International Airport Authority; Reynaldo Berroya, executive director of the Light Rail Transit Authority; Jose Jobel Belarmino, OIC of the Office of the Deputy Administrator of LRTA; Eduardo Abiva, division manager of the LRTA; Jim Sydiongco, director general of Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines; Elson Hermogino, commandant of the Philippine Coast Guard; Undersecretary Arturo Evangelista of the Office of the Transport Security, and Edgar Galvante of the Land Transportation Office.

Dave Almarinez, president and chief executive officer of Philippine International Trading Corp., and Ma. Victoria Magcase, vice president, were also summoned to attend the probe.

The DOTr on Sunday said the assistance it sought from the DBM was aboveboard.

READ: Man up, Andaya tells Diokno for budget hearing

In a statement, the department said Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act allows government agencies to engage with PS-DBM for the procurement of their projects.

“Considering the volume of DOTr projects to be procured, especially those that form part of the ‘Build, Build, Build’ Program of the Duterte administration, the DOTr deemed it wise and strategic to seek the assistance of PS-DBM as DOTr’s procuring agent. 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,” the DOTr’s statement read.

It said Congress has likewise mandated one-year validity for government funds, thus, line agencies only have a year to procure or obligate for projects indicated in the budget.

The DOTr has entered into a memorandum of agreement with the PS-DBM to set guidelines on the procurement of projects.

In 2017, the DOTr has agreed to procure for itself projects which have prices set at P50 million or below while the PS-DBM will be in charge of the procurement of projects amounting to more than P50 million on behalf of the department.

“Through this setup, procurement for projects across the four transportation sectors has become swift and efficient, with biddings for various projects simultaneously held by the DOTr and the PS-DBM,” the department said.

The terms of reference and bidding documents for the projects remain with the DOTr as the head of procuring entity. The Notice of Award, contract, and Notice to Proceed are still with the DOTr, as well as the subject project’s implementation. 

“The DOTr remains faithful to the directive of President Rodrigo R. Duterte to rid government ranks of anomaly and corruption. The DOTr takes this to heart in its establishment of systems and processes that espouse transparency and efficiency. Its engagement of the PS-DBM as a procuring agent is not any different,” the DOTr said. With PNA

READ: Diokno’s ‘irregular insertions’ deleted

Topics: House of Representatives , Department of Budget and Management , Benjamin Diokno , Rolando Andaya , Giovanni Lopez , Department of Transportation
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