I agree with the President. The Procurement Law should be revisited.
The Government Procurement Reform Act (R.A. 9184) was enacted “to promote good governance and its effort to adhere to the principle of transparency, accountability, equity, efficiency, and economy in its procurement process” (IRR of R.A. 9184). As widely known, procurement by the government must be through public bidding and the winning bidder is the lowest one. In principle, this is of course advantageous to the government because no person in his right mind would choose to buy from a supplier whose price is higher than others. The government hopes that in an open and public bidding, the suppliers would lower their price in order to win the contract. In reality, almost the opposite happens. Unfortunately, the government loses much in adhering to the rules set by the R.A. 9184.
Government procurement takes much time because of the numerous documents required from the bidders or suppliers. In the implementation of infrastructure projects for example, much time is used in the publication of the invitation, preparation of the bid documents, evaluation, award, and other required activities. Even in procurements where public bidding is not required such as the alternative mode of shopping, much time is needed to procure even goods of small value. In this mode, the entity goes to at least three suppliers and request for a quote on certain goods and the one with the lowest price is awarded the procurement. The government becomes inefficient because the procurement process takes longer than the implementation itself. It has become difficult for it to respond to immediate needs since it is required that it go through a tedious process of procuring the goods or services. In case of shopping, agencies or local government units that are far from cities will have to waste days and resources just to travel back and forth for at least three times to the suppliers to canvass, deliver the required documents, then to transport the goods purchased. The time and resources could have been used for the performance of other important functions rather than this complicated process of procurement.
With the desire to purchase cheaper goods, quality is almost always compromised. A cheaper product can mean lower quality of material which can be easily destroyed or can be inefficient as compared to its more expensive counterpart. As a result, the government will have to buy more often since the cheaper product tends to break down easily. In the end, the government spends more rather than save. Some business establishments even add 4-6% on top of their selling price because according to them, the process requires so much and the added amount is meant compensate them for it.
A new addition to the process of government purchase is the requirement for business establishments to enroll in the PhilGeps data base if they intend to supply goods to the government. This additional requirement discouraged some business establishments from transacting with the government making it more difficult for government agencies to look for suppliers of much needed goods. In case a particular machine or equipment is available from a supplier who has not registered with PhilGeps, the government will not be able to purchase it simply because of the non-registration of the supplier.
Withal, the lawmakers had good intentions in the enactment of the Procurement Law but as a result of the process required, government purchase has become almost prohibitive. It is my personal view that this law has to be revisited to make its focus more on the delivery of services to the people promptly and efficiently.