Red flags continue

THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez - The Freeman

There seems no end to the problems and issues of the Land Transportation Office. Aside from the new license plates that were not received, the agency paid in full four companies ?3.15 billion to upgrade their system of processing driver’s licenses and vehicle registration. Senate Minority Leader Sen. Koko Pimentel would like the Senate to investigate after a 2021 COA report found “defects that led to massive disruptions” causing much slower processing than usual. Before, it only took two hours to wait for your new license and vehicle registration. Now it takes five days. Is that what billions paid for? Senator Pimentel would like the Senate to ask the LTO why they paid the companies in full even if they have not fully delivered their products.

You will recall the current LTO head asking for about ?7 billion to fix the backlog of license plates. Motorists were in an uproar saying those plates have been paid for a long time ago when a unified plate system was announced. Let’s also mention that the issue of the LTO fully paying the four companies was flagged by the COA under the Duterte administration. The COA was not in the good graces of Duterte because of the former’s expose of the Pharmally mess. It is a different COA today, headed by a close ally and former solicitor general Jose Calida. Let’s hope the pressure on both issues continues under the new COA.

Another issue flagged by the COA during Duterte's era was the purchase of slow laptops by DepEd. In addition to being slow, the price was 60% higher than normal retail. The DepEd pointed to the Procurement Service of the Dept. of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) as the agency that purchased the laptops. We all know the PS-DBM was also involved in the Pharmally Pharmaceutical Inc. controversy extensively investigated by the previous Senate.

Vice President and DepEd Secretary Sara Duterte has ordered an inquiry into the purchase. But the investigation will fall again on the PS-DBM. Will former undersecretary Christopher Lloyd Lao, who led the PS-DBM at that time, be summoned again? Will he cooperate? Will he even show up? I must ask if anything will come out of yet another investigation by the Senate. Will we benefit from that investigation if nothing seems to have happened in the Senate's investigation into Pharmally? Was anybody charged and arrested in conjunction with that controversy? It may be another waste of time the Senate could have earmarked for the formulation of laws, which is what a lawmaker does. And if the PS-DBM often gets involved in questionable purchases of goods and services for the government, maybe it’s time they should not be given the authority to do so.


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