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AKLAN, Philippines – The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said it respected the decision of the ffice of the Ombudsman to suspend some of its employees who were allegedly involved in the overpriced procurement of COVID-19 medical supplies.
In a press conference Thursday, March 23, at the La Carmela Resort in Boracay Island here, DBM Secretary Amenah Pangandaman said incumbent Procurement Service-DBM (PS-DBM) Executive Director Dennis Santiago would ensure transparency of their department during the investigation.
Pangandaman was here to address the 2,500 members of the Philippine League of Local Budget Officers Association (PHILBOA) at their annual convention. This year’s convention theme was, “Digital Transformation to Strengthen LGU Public Financial Management.
The Ombudsman on Monday, March 20, issued a suspension order against 33 past and present procurement service and health officials over allegedly irregular transactions with controversial government supplier Pharmally Pharmaceutical for COVID-19 test kits in 2020.
Ombudsman Samuel Martires was quoted as saying that former and current officials of the PS-DBM, as well as, of the Department of Health (DOH), were placed under a six-month preventive suspension pending investigation.
It was not clear how many PS-DBM officials were under preventive suspension.
But among those named were former PS-DBM Procurement Group Director Warren Rex Liong, who is now Overall Deputy Ombudsman, and former PS-DBM chief Lloyd Christopher Lao.
“I will leave to Executive Director Santiago if he will announce his planned timeline to strengthen the PS-DBM,” said Pangandaman.
In a statement released to local media, Santiago said that he joined the Office of the Ombudsman in its quest for truth and upholding public trust.
“Rest assured that we shall implement the Order within the specified time frame. Under the current leadership, the PS-DBM shall continue to implement and institute crucial procurement and administrative reforms, while implementing zero tolerance on irregularities and any form of corruption. PS-DBM shall remain relentless in its pursuit to transform the office into an agency that fosters integrity and quality service for the Filipino people,” Santiago said. – Rappler.com
Jun Aguirre is an Aries Rufo Journalism Fellow.