In a report released last Friday, June 3, the Commission on Audit (COA) criticized the Presidential Management Staff (PMS) for their drinking habits, as they accumulated almost P1 million for their tab on branded drinking water.
According to the report, the government agency ‘could have saved over P800,000’ in 2015 if they chose to purchase purified drinking water in five-liter gallon bottles from water refilling stations than opting for branded drinking water which only contained six liters per bottle.
“For the year 2015, the agency spent a total of P999, 100.00 for the consumption of 103,440 liters of drinking water at an average cost per liter of P9.6587 which proved to be more expensive than the cost of drinking water offered by the refilling stations which ranges from P25.00 to P35.00 per bottle of 5-gallons equivalent to P1.50 to P1.75 per liter.
Had the agency opted to purchase from the refilling stations which offered P30.00 or P35.00 per bottle, the agency could have saved up to P8.1587 per liter which would have amounted to a savings of P843,935.93, “ it stated.
State auditors noted that the PMS started buying its branded drinking water from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Commissary around mid-2014, citing ‘a lone incidence of diarrhea’ among its employees as their reason.
COA reprimanded the PMS to be more prudent in spending government funds, suggesting that they purchase drinking water from trustworthy refilling stations instead. They should also take into consideration if their supplier will comply with all sanitary requirements, to guarantee the safety of its personnel.
In response to COA’s claims, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. justified the agency’s purchase of branded drinking water.
“Alternative procurement was done in view of health issues arising from water supplied previously. All procurement has been done in accordance with law,” he said.
COA also acknowledged that the water dispensers of the PMS were ‘underutilized’, as 19 dispensers totaling to P76,359 have not been used since switching to branded drinking water. Coloma countered that these dispensers have been now ‘re-deployed to regional offices.’