Press Release
September 22, 2011

Trillanes wants the Senate to probe P 1.15 Billion DOTC procurement scam

Senator Antonio "Sonny" Trillanes IV, who was recently elected by his colleagues as Chair of the Senate Select Oversight Committee on Government Procurement, has called for a Senate probe on the alleged anomalous procurement of P1.15-billion worth of equipment by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) during the time of former Secretary Leandro Mendoza.

Trillanes filed Senate Resolution No. 609, which directs the Senate Blue Ribbon panel and the Select Oversight Committee on Government Procurement and other relevant committees of the Senate to conduct a joint investigation into the alleged irregularities in the DOTC's purchase of oil spill response equipment and lighthouse or aids to navigation (ATON) spare parts intended for the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in 2007.

The lawmaker expressed alarm over allegations that those purchases were attended by numerous irregularities such as blatant violation of Republic Act 9184 - otherwise known as the Government Procurement Act of 2003 - as well as overpricing, falsification of documents, the use of fraudulent bank certifications and a tainted bidding process.

Trillanes said the purpose of the investigation is not only to determine compliance with RA 9184 but also to enact "remedial legislation to strengthen said act and other relevant laws of the land."

In the case of the questioned transactions, Trillanes noted the allegations that the agency had used lapsed special allotment release orders (SAROs) for the purchases.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) issued three SAROs amounting to P250 million, P300 million and P400 million, respectively, as funding for the upgrading and repair of various light stations in the country, and to cover the requirements needed for the PCG's National Oil Spill Contingency Plan (NOSCP).

Trillanes said the DOTC invited prospective parties to participate in the bidding of the Aids to Navigation (ATON) spare parts for the repair and maintenance of lighthouses nationwide and the Marine Environmental Protection Equipment (MEPE) and supplies under the NOSCP.

However, Trillanes said that in both cases, the DOTC proceeded to utilize the intended SAROs despite the fact that their validity had already lapsed. He said the DOTC did not even bother to ask the DBM to extend the SAROs before pushing through the procurement process.

Trillanes pointed out that the ATON spare parts were apparently procured even without any request and without the knowledge of the supposed end-user, the PCG. "Because of all these, hundreds of millions worth of equipment and spare parts are rotting in the DOTC's stockroom for over a year now. Clearly, those responsible for wasting over a billion of the people's money should be held accountable. The money could have gone a long way in enhancing the capabilities of the PCG, if said money was spent properly. This is clearly unforgivable. If this is true, this is even bigger than the P728 Million fertilizer scam," Trillanes added.

Senator TG Guingona, who chairs the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, will reportedly co-sponsor the Senate resolution.

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