Press Release
October 19, 2021

Drilon: PITC to return P2-B unused funds to national coffers

State-run Philippine International Trading Corp. (PITC) assured Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon that it will return about two billion of its funds to the Bureau of Treasury.

Drilon got the assurance from Christabelle Ebriega, acting President and Chief Executive Officer of PITC, during the agency's budget hearing Monday that PITC will return P1.965 billion unused funds that were previously transferred by different government agencies within the month.

Ebriega, a career official, took over as officer-in-charge of PITC upon the resignation of its former CEO, Dave Almarinez, who was grilled by Drilon last year for his agency's refusal to return billions of parked funds. Alminarez reportedly filed his certificate of candidacy for a local post.

The minority leader welcomed the PITC's move "especially that every cent counts in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic that left thousands, if not millions, of Filipinos jobless and hungry."

It was Drilon who exposed in 2020 the huge sum of funds parked in the PITC dating back as far as 2010.

Following Drilon's expose, the trading firm has started to return unused and parked funds to the national coffers. Recently, it returned about P10.2 billion to augment the government's COVID-19 pandemic response.

"Mayroon din pong use ang senado. When we exposed these shortcomings, the PITC remitted P10.20 billion and more are coming," he said. "We showed to some people in the executive branch na mayroon din nagagawang tama ang senado. Mayroon din namang nangyayari sa ginagawa natin."

Drilon noticed that PITC had an accelerated return of the funds to the treasury in the past one year and a half, which coincides with the period when he made public the huge sums of money being parked in the PITC.

"I think you have to admit that there were a lot of erroneous assumptions particularly on your obligations to remit dividends and return unused appropriation. Because of that, we were able to return about P10.20 billion," Drilon said.

"It is when I said that PITC's holding onto these funds are not in accordance with the law. Records will show that it was in 2019 and 2020 when I started making noise that fund transfers were made," he added.

Based on the PITC data, the PITC received a total of P50.7 billion funds from various government agencies from 2014 to 2020. Of which, P33 billion or 65% of that total amount constitutes government accounts, while the remaining P17 billion or 35% constitutes military accounts.

In 2014 and 2015, the fund transfer to PITC only amounted to P1.10 billion and P3.01 billion, respectively, according to Drilon. It has started to grow exponentially since 2016 when it reached P6.49 billion and P11.21 billion in 2017, P14.89 billion in 2018, P9.66 billion in 2019, and P4.35 billion in 2020, he emphasized.

Ebriega defended these huge transfers over the past years and cited PITC's aggressive marketing campaign to get different government agencies to transact with PITC.

But the minority leader countered this, saying that agencies were using PITC to skirt procurement and accounting laws.

Nevertheless, Ebriega said that the agency has started the funds transfers in 2019, especially for projects funded by the 2019 General Appropriations Act. She vowed to provide a report on unreturned funds to be remitted to the national treasury which amounts to P1.96 billion.

Not only did the PITC return unused appropriation, Drilon's expose also forced PITC to accelerate the disbursement of funds worth of procurement. These funds have been parked in PITC accounts for years.

"Because we called out this unconscionable act of parking funds, bumilis din po ang procurement," Drilon said.

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