Sunday, January 22, 2023

Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Recommends Administrative and Criminal Charges Against DepEd and PS-DBM Officials for Misuse of Public Funds

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee has recommended that administrative and criminal charges be brought against several officials from the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of Budget and Management Procurement Service (PS-DBM) over the alleged misuse of P979 million in public funds. The committee, which is chaired by Francis Tolentino, has also recommended the abolition of PS-DBM and the imposition of stricter regulations on joint venture entities to increase transparency and accountability in government procurement.

One of the key figures named in the committee's report is former DepEd Undersecretary Alain Pascua, who is facing one count of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for causing undue injury to the government. Other DepEd and PS-DBM officials facing similar charges include former DepEd Assistant Secretary Salvador Malana III, DepEd Undersecretary Annalyn Sevilla, DepEd Director for Information and Communications Technology Service Abram Abanil, former PS-DBM chief Lloyd Christopher Lao, former PS-DBM OIC Executive Director Jasonmer Uayan, and Bids and Awards Committee chair Ulysses Mora.

The report also recommends perjury charges under Article 183 of the Revised Penal Code against Sevilla, Pascua, Malana, Lao, and Uayan. In addition, the panel has recommended administrative and disciplinary investigations for Grave Misconduct, Serious Dishonesty, Gross Neglect of Duty, and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service against DepEd and PS-DBM officials.

Despite the long list of charges, the committee cleared former Education Secretary Leonor Briones of any involvement in the alleged misuse of funds. According to Tolentino, Briones may have only been "used" by other officials to downplay the adjustments that would have alerted her to the issue.

The committee's report also includes a number of recommendations for improving transparency and accountability in government procurement. These include the abolition of PS-DBM and the requirement for government departments, agencies, and offices to conduct their own procurement as an exercise of their fiduciary duty to be accountable for public funds. The report also calls for amendments to the Government Procurement Reform Act to provide for transparency and accountability requirements for joint venture entities and to provide for transparency and accountability safeguards during the planning and pre-bidding stages of public procurement.

Overall, the report paints a picture of a government procurement process that is plagued by mismanagement, lack of transparency, and corruption. The committee's recommendations, if implemented, could go a long way towards addressing these issues and ensuring that public funds are used for their intended purpose.

No comments:

Post a Comment