Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Wednesday criticized the “kid gloves” treatment by the government on the alleged inefficiencies and shady schemes perpetuated by the Philippine International Trading Corporation (PITC).
Drilon said Malacanang’s approach to the issue of PITC’s violations of auditing and procurement rules was “poor” and lacked “teeth”.
“The response is rather “soft”. They are treating the issue with “kid gloves”. Maybe they have not realized yet the gravity of the violations committed by the PITC,” Drilon said.
He made the statement as Malacanang ordered a review of the undelivered projects worth P33 billion “parked” with the PITC, a small trading firm attached to the Department of Trade and Industry.
“This is a see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil approach,” Drilon said. He said the government should heed the call of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez for the immediate return of the P33.3 billion lodged with the PITC to provide money to the cash-strapped government to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic and the onslaught from the three devastating typhoons that hit the country last month.
Drilon, who first announced the multi-billion schemes perpetuated by PITC over a decade, said the funds should be returned to the national coffers as recommended by the head of the economic team, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez.
“The finance secretary and the Commission on Audit, in its report, had already concluded that the funds being held in trust by PITC should be returned to the source agencies. Moreover, the interest income earned from the trust should be remitted to the national treasury pursuant to Presidential Decree 1445 or the Government Auditing Code of the Philippines,” Drilon said.
Aside from the violations of auditing rules and the circumvention of procurement laws, the scheme that had allowed the PITC to park around P33.3 billion from source agencies and illegally keep over P1 billion in interest income was also “a clear violation of the President’s own executive order, EO 91, signed in 2019 and which provides the country’s shift to the cash budgeting system.”
Drilon said it was clear that the PITC could no longer deliver the products and services, saying the undelivered items went as far back as 2007.
He also said it was misleading to say that the PITC could keep the interest earned from the P33 billion transferred to it by several agencies.