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Almarinez denies 'parked' funds, PITC's role in COVID-19 vaccine procurement

Almarinez denies 'parked' funds, PITC's role in COVID-19 vaccine procurement
Ramon Lopez almarinez

Trade and Industry Sec. Ramon Lopez (left) and Philippine International Trading Corporation President and Chief Executive Officer Dave Almarinez attends a public hearing on a bill proposing to amend the charter of the Philippine International Trading Corporation Law, Tuesday, 10 March 2020. (Joseph Vidal/Senate PRIB)

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine International Trading Corporation (PITC) President and CEO Dave Almarinez clarified that the agency has no idle funds in its bank accounts.

“We’d like to assure our esteemed law-makers that we are not a valet service for obligated but unused funds of various agencies. Neither do we operate a parking lot to gain commissions on the side,” he said in a statement.

PITC also said they welcomed calls to initiate public hearing on recent .

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, who is also PITC’s chairman of the board of directors, also disproved issues involving its attached agency.

“Kung ano man ang funds na nandiyan right now… iyon yung mga natitira [para sa] ongoing projects. At any given point of time, mayroon silang TOR (Terms of Reference) in the process of bidding and of course, ready na to buy,” Lopez told INQUIRER.net.

Lopez also mentioned that the PITC has already sent its financial reports to Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto.

COVID-19 vaccine procurement

Almarinez also explained that PITC does not have a role, for now, in the government’s COVID-19 vaccination program.

“We should not be seen as a threat or hindrance to the vaccination program because we don’t even have the power to choose which vaccine to buy,” he said.

“We are not involved in any way in the decision-making process. All policy recommendations on the supply of COVID-19 vaccines will emanate from the newly-formed task force headed by former General Carlito Galvez, and of course, our President,” he added.

Lopez also added that PITC might only join the procurement process if it will be loaned from the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) Landbank.

“Usually yung mga malalaking acquisition DBM ‘yan lalo na kung budgeted. Pero kung hindi budgeted, kunwari galing pautang lalo from DBP Landbank, doon nabanggit si PITC,” he said.

However, he emphasized that there are no final plans yet on the procurement process of the vaccines.

JE