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Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Thursday said the Department of Finance (DOF) has urged the Department of Budget and Management to order the return of P33 billion “parked” in the bank accounts of the Philippine International Trading Corp. (PITC).

Upon Drilon’s prodding, the DOF and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) will now recommend to the President the issuance of a directive for the immediate return of the funds to provide funding to the cash-strapped government.

Drilon said Dominguez personally called him to inform him of his agency’s positive response to the minority leader’s expose.

In his letter to Budget and Management Secretary Wendel Avisado dated November 25, a copy of which was sent to Drilon, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez requested the Department of Budget of Management (DBM) to endorse to the President the return of the various fund transfers.

“Following our discussion, we would like to request for the endorsement to the President by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for the return to the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) of the various fund transfers to PITC by certain government agencies, pursuant to DBM’s guidelines on the matter,” Dominguez told Avisado in the letter.

Drilon said the government should immediately ask for the immediate return of the huge cash sitting idly in the coffers of PITC while the government is having difficulties raising funds due to the drop in revenues due to the pandemic.

As of October 31, 2020, the P32.6 billion remains in the hands of PITC, according to the letter and 80 of which represents fund transfers from Philippine Army, P7.04 billion; Bureau of Fire Protection, P3.25 billion; Department of Information and Communication Technology, P3.23 billion; Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, P3.04 billion; Bureau of Customs, P2.44 billion; Department of Health, P2.11 billion; Philippine Navy, P1.74 billion; University of the Philippines Systems, P1.47 billion; Research Institute of Tropical Medicine, P1.16 billion; and Philippine General Hospital, P991.24 million.

“I am glad that the DOF listens and swiftly acts on issues we raised concerning this huge sum of money parked in the PITC,” Drilon said.

“These funds will go a long way. We need P73.2 billion to fund the procurement of vaccines. We need P30 billion annually to address our 6.5 million housing backlogs. We need to feed 5.5 million hungry Filipino families and support the 4.6 million unemployed Filipinos,” he stressed.

“With the return of this P33.3 billion, we now have half of the P73.2 billion needed for the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines,” he added.

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