At least P8.523 billion in funds of the Philippine Army remains unliquidated or unaccounted for with the Philippine International Trading Corp. (PITC), Sen. Panfilo "Ping" M. Lacson disclosed Tuesday.
Lacson cited figures from the 2020 Commission on Audit report that showed the PITC received some P15.927 billion from 2007 to 2020 from the Philippine Army alone, with total unliquidated balances in the amount of P8.523 billion.
"Every year, nag-scrounge tayo sa pondo para sa modernization, pati revised modernization program ng AFP, ang sabi natin cause for delay ang funding gaps kasi di napopondohan. Yet we find out from the COA report may unliquidated balances of P8.5 billion just for the Philippine Army (Every year, we scrounge for funds for the AFP's modernization, even for the AFP's revised modernization program. The cause of delay was due to the funding gaps. Yet we find out from the COA report that there are unliquidated balances of P8.5 billion, just for the Philippine Army)," he said at his interpellation of the Department of National Defense's budget for 2022.
"Hindi biro-biro ang amounts involved (The amounts involved are no joke)," he added.
Worse, he said the PITC failed to deliver, as records showed its deliveries were virtually zero - at 0.01 percent in 2019 and 0.22 percent in 2020.
Yet, he said the PITC gained some P640 million from the Army's P15.9-billion "deposit" due to the four-percent service fee that the PITC charges.
Because of these, Lacson - who chairs the Senate defense committee and is the presidential standard bearer of Partido Reporma - said it is time the DND and AFP do their own procuring.
"I think the DND and the AFP are more capable of procuring... Mas mabuti (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."