Press Release
March 8, 2016

Recto calls for return of "Buy Philippine Made" policy
in gov't purchases

Six hundred thousand pieces of imported car plates would not have passed through the port of Manila, where Customs officials seized them, if they were only manufactured locally.

Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto cited the above case in underscoring the need for government to adopt a "Buy Philippine-Made policy" for government purchases.

By buying local, government will be supporting local firms, creating local jobs and giving manufacturing--which it trumpets must be resurrected--a much-needed boost.

The senator described government as a huge supplies and equipment buyer, with a budget in the hundreds of billions annually. "From soap to cars, from paper to guns, government buys these in bulk."

For 2016, national government alone will be buying P73.5 billion worth of supplies and materials, many "common-use" items for offices but also medicine for hospitals and parts for its vehicle fleet.

It will also be buying P4 billion worth of furniture and books, P1.9 billion worth of transportation equipment, and P62.3 billion worth of machinery and equipment this year.

The latter, Recto said, includes farm equipment, and computers, like the 7,638 IT packages costing P6.8 billion that will be distributed to public elementary and high schools.

In addition, government will be bidding out P545 billion worth of public works projects. "And these do not include procurement by local governments and government corporations."

To the extent allowed by law, government must prefer local products or those with high local content in shopping for these, Recto said.

"In the case of car plates, kailangan pa ba talaga made in Netherlands ang mga yan? Hindi ba yan pwede gawin ng mga Pilipino?" Recto said, referring to reports that 15.2 million pieces of motor vehicles plates will be manufactured in Netherlands under a P3.85 billion contract.

Recto said there are vibrant domestic manufacturing sectors which can meet government equipment needs.

"If we're buying boats for coastal or river patrol, then let our shipyards in Subic, Cebu and Bataan make them," he said. "If other nations find them exceptional, then we should too."

Bodies of police patrol jeeps can be manufactured here, Recto added. "Laguna factories are good in assembling buses."

But in buying locally-made, "price points should not be the sole consideration," Recto said. "We should not be buying a lemon just because it is wrapped in a Philippine flag. Quality should not be sacrificed."

Recto said a provision in previous national budgets--which has been scrapped in the General Appropriations Act (GAA) for 2016--provides the guidelines in government purchases of Philippine-made products.

"It's a great mystery on why this provision, which was present in budget laws signed by presidents from Ferdinand Marcos to Benigno Aquino III, has been deleted in this year's budget," Recto said.

The said provision, which was still present in the 2013 GAA, states that "priority shall be given to the purchase of locally-produced and manufactured materials to be undertaken either by administration or by contract."

Covered by the policy, Recto said, are "foreign-assisted projects whose covering loan agreements expressly allow or do not prohibit the same."

Recto said previous GAAs, however, allowed importation "if none of the desired quality or standard is available in the market or when the price of the local product or service is 15 percent more than that of a similar product offered by an enterprise other than a domestic entity."

If the quality of the locally-produced and manufactured material is sub-standard compared with its imported counterpart, then importation was also allowed, Recto added.

The third exception is "if no locally-produced and manufactured material is available as certified by the Department of Trade and Industry," Recto said citing a provision in past GAAs.

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