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OPS cannot buy luxury vehicles, says DBM

- Jess Diaz -
The Office of the Press Secretary (OPS) is prohibited under two issuances of President Arroyo from buying luxury vehicles, according to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

Documents sent by the office of DBM Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. to The STAR yesterday showed that Administrative Order No. 3 and AO No. 103 prohibit the acquisition of luxury vehicles by government agencies, including state corporations.

Andaya’s office sent the documents in reaction to a story published in this paper last Wednesday about the plan of OPS to purchase expensive vehicles, laptops and other equipment in 2007, including a P1.7-million Toyota Fortuner sport utility vehicle and a P3.5-million Toyota Coaster.

AO No. 3 was issued on Feb. 27, 2001, shortly after the President took over from ousted President Joseph Estrada. Mrs. Arroyo and then Executive Secretary Renato de Villa signed it.

It is all about banning the purchase of luxury vehicles by government agencies, including state corporations and local government units and selling such vehicles then owned by these agencies.

It defines a luxury as any passenger motor vehicle "priced in the local market at P1.3 million or more at the time of acquisition..."

The order directs state officers "to account for all their motor vehicle units and prepare a disposal program for all luxury motor vehicles."

The directive in AO No. 1 is reiterated in AO No. 103 issued on Aug. 31. 2004 and signed by the President and Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita.

The latter administrative order mandates the "continued adoption of austerity measures in the government."

Among other directives, it limits foreign travels and suspends the "purchase of any type of motor vehicles, except ambulances and those required by the military and police."

Besides the two presidential issuances, the annual budget law bans the "purchase of motor vehicles, except medical ambulances, military and police patrol vehicles, motorcycles, other utility vehicles, road construction equipment, motorized bancas, and those used for mass transport when necessary in the interest of the public service…"

The OPS vehicle and equipment acquisition list was submitted last Tuesday to the House appropriations committee.

Besides the Fortuner SUV and Coaster, the Presidential Broadcast Staff (PBS) will buy eight Red Heads (apparently a brand) lights costing P523,600 each for a total of P4.2 million, six Toshiba Tecra M2 laptops costing P211,454.32 apiece for a total of P1.3 million, another laptop with a P203,000 price tag, eight pieces of Sony ECM-77 lapel microphone costing P49,280 each, and six Shure SM-58 microphone costing P14,754 apiece.

PBS is the OPS unit that covers the President’s activities here and abroad principally for television and radio broadcast.

The other items on the PBS shopping list include procurement of two Mitsubishi passenger vans, seven personal computers, six electric typewriters, nine air-conditioners, and 21 swivel chairs costing P25,200 each.

Reacting to The STAR story, a PBS official has explained that they need the SUV so they would be able to catch up with Mrs. Arroyo’s convoy.

He said the lights costing more than P500,000 each come with tripods, while the costly seven laptops would be used for teleprompters.

In contrast, OPS proper (office of Secretary Ignacio Bunye) will procure one utility vehicle costing P1 million, eight utility vehicles costing P750,000 each, three laptops costing P70,000 apiece, four units of mobile phones, 15 units of personal computers, five motorcycles, two DVD players, one refrigerator, and five air-conditioners.

The News and Information Bureau will buy a P100,000 laptop and a utility vehicle costing P800,000. On the other hand, the National Printing Office would procure a P100,000 personal computer.

ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER NO

BESIDES THE FORTUNER

COSTING

DEPARTMENT OF BUDGET AND MANAGEMENT

EXECUTIVE SECRETARY RENATO

MRS. ARROYO

NATIONAL PRINTING OFFICE

NEWS AND INFORMATION BUREAU

OFFICE OF THE PRESS SECRETARY

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