Senator flags P8.5-B in unliquidated Army funds with PITC

Senator flags P8.5-B in unliquidated Army funds with PITC
File photo shows Filipino soldiers.
File photo

MANILA, Philippines — At least P8.52 billion in Philippine Army funds remain unliquidated or unaccounted for with the Philippine International Trading Corp., the chairman of the Senate defense committee bared Tuesday as he urged the military to do its own procurement from now on. 

Sen. Panfilo Lacson, the presidential candidate Partido Reporma, cited figures from a 2020 Commission on Audit report that showed the PITC received some P15.927 billion from 2007 to 2020 from the Philippine Army, more than half of which remains unliquidated. 

PITC, a state corporation formed in 1973, helps government agencies "facilitate the procurement of numerous government requirements on their behalf," it says on its website.

"Every year, we scrounge for funds for the [Armed Forces of the Philippines] modernization, even for the AFP's revised modernization program," Lacson said in Filipino during debates on the Department of National Defense's budget for 2022.

"Yet we find out from the COA report that there are unliquidated balances of P8.5 billion, just for the Philippine Army." 

To make matters worse, Lacson said, records show that PITC's deliveries were "virtually zero" at 0.01% in 2019 and 0.22% the year after. 

Despite this, the PITC earned some P640 million from the 4% service fee it charged from the Army's P15.9-billion "deposit." 

"I think the [Department of National Defense] and the AFP are more capable of procuring... It would be better if they do the procurement themselves, instead of depositing these amounts to the PITC," he said. "The data would show that transferring the procurement to the PITC isn't working."

The government's procuring agencies have been the center of controversy this year, in large part due to the government's anomalous contracts with Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. that were approved by the Department of Budget and Management's procurement service. 

There are a number of bills in both chambers of Congress seeking to abolish the two agencies as a result. — Bella Perez-Rubio 

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