Senator Leila M. de Lima has sought a Senate probe into the implementation of a centralized system of procuring government motor vehicles which could breed large-scale corruption and hamper the efficiency of Local Government Units (LGUs).
De Lima filed Senate Resolution (SR) No. 209 directing the appropriate Senate committee to look into the feasibility and impact to government efficiency of the centralized system of buying government vehicles.
“Public procurement is an important component of fiscal administration as it contributes to our national economy. [C]entralization of procurement goes against the very principle of devolution of power enshrined in the Local Government Code,” she said.
“The principle of devolution places the burden on the national government to prove that certain functions could not be performed by local government units before centralizing the same,” she added.
In December 2018, Duterte signed Administrative Order (AO) No. 14 adopting a centralized system of procuring government motor vehicles, which covers all national government agencies under the executive branch, as well as LGUs.
Pursuant to AO No. 14, the Government Procurement Policy Board (GPPB) authorizes the Department of Budget Management (DBM) and the Procurement Service (PS) to issue specific procedural process for the operationalization of a centralized procurement of motor vehicles as common-use supply and equipment.
In compliance with said A.O, the DBM in its Memorandum Circular 2019-03 declared that the acquisition of the government-owned motor vehicles in its list will already be under a centralized procurement system.
While centralized procurement promotes reductions in prices of goods and services, De Lima said some experts warned against the said method as highly susceptible to corruption because it involves large-scale projects and massive allocated budgets in awarding government contracts without clear safeguards in place.
“With such vulnerabilities and lack of a transparent system of procurement, fair competition and lower cost and prices might not be achieved with high probability of leakages,” she said.
The lady Senator from Bicol said there are also serious concerns in the absorptive capacity and the necessity for more technical knowledge of procurement personnel to implement the centralized purchase and procurement system.
“It is imperative to look into the readiness of the primary agencies i.e, the DBM and PS, tasked to implement this system, the transparency mechanism and other vital safeguards in-place to avert possible large-scale corruption and assurance of timely purchase and distribution of such motor vehicles that is demanded by the constituencies it may be of service,” she said.
In filing SR No. 209, De Lima, a former justice secretary, underscored the duty of the Duterte administration to empower LGUs instead of doing otherwise. “There is need to ensure that the national government does not overstep its power of supervision over the local government units,” she said. (30)