He said DBM Procurement Service chief Bingle Gutierrez on Tuesday told the House inquiry on “questionable budget practices” and the multibillion-peso flood control scam under the Duterte administration that the DBM “is conducting bidding for more than P198 billion worth of government contracts.”
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Andaya: DBM becomes super bidding body under Diokno
Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) - January 17, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has “morphed into a super bidding body” under Secretary Benjamin Diokno in violation of the Procurement Law, House of Representatives Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. said yesterday.

He said DBM Procurement Service chief Bingle Gutierrez on Tuesday told the House inquiry on “questionable budget practices” and the multibillion-peso flood control scam under the Duterte administration that the DBM “is conducting bidding for more than P198 billion worth of government contracts.”

Amid the budget impasse, Diokno said yesterday President Duterte would call for a special session of Congress if the appropriations program for this year is not passed before the May elections.

“If they don’t pass the budget, we’ll call them to a special session again and again and again so that will take time away from their campaign,” Diokno said at his regular press briefing.

On Tuesday, Gutierrez said the contracts include those for “big-ticket infrastructure projects that form part of the Build Build Build program, such as airport, railways and mass transport systems, and even military hardware like helicopters.”

He said that out of the P198-billion contracts, the bulk or P168.3 billion represented projects under the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

He added that the law limits the task of the procurement service to procuring “commonly used supplies for government such as envelopes, folders, ball pens, pencils, inks, computers and other office equipment that are cheaper to buy by bulk.”

Andaya stressed that Gutierrez’s testimony belies Diokno’s claim that the DBM does not meddle in bidding processes and in project implementation.

“Is the DBM better in bidding airports and the (Metro Manila) subway project than the experts of the DOTr? Are they better in scrutinizing the technical specifications of helicopters and military hardware than the Department of National Defense?” he asked.

He said Diokno should explain why the DBM has taken over bidding processes that should be conducted by other agencies.

“We have not given them the authority to conduct bidding for big-ticket government projects, the budgets of which were lodged in other departments,” he said.

A day after Andaya’s Tuesday hearing, Camarines Sur colleague Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte reiterated his call for the House leader to resign.

He said the resumption of the inquiry “is yet another compelling reason for him to quit right away as majority floor leader, so he could no longer use his premier position to hold hostage the congressional passage of the proposed 2019 budget, the delay of which puts at great risk the full and swift implementation this year of President Duterte’s growth and development agenda.”

“This is a bizarre situation in which the House majority leader has for the first time ever orchestrated a demolition job on the DBM and on Secretary Benjamin Diokno, who is an alter ego of the President, in tandem with the House minority bloc,” Villafuerte said, referring to Minority Leader Danilo Suarez.

He claimed that Andaya is pursuing his probe “against the wishes of a majority of our peers in the ruling coalition who want a speedy congressional approval of the 2019 budget in support of President Duterte’s vision for high and inclusive growth.”

Villafuerte represents Camarines Sur’s second district, while Andaya is first district representative. They are political enemies, with the House leader running for governor in the May elections against the incumbent, Villafuerte’s son Luis Miguel.

Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo earlier said the President had made no effort to stop Andaya’s inquiry despite Villafuerte’s criticism. – With Cecille Suerte Felipe, Mary Grace Padin

BENJAMIN DIOKNO DEPARTMENT OF BUDGET AND MANAGEMENT ROLANDO ANDAYA JR.
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