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Exempt DICT from procurement laws – senator

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian yesterday said the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) should be given leeway in the procurement of cybersecurity equipment needed to prevent future hacking of government websites.

In an interview with radio dzBB, Gatchalian said the DICT should be allowed to buy “specialized equipment” and exempted from the Government Procurement Reform Act (GPRA) which mandates that purchases to be made by government agencies must include the terms of reference to identify the items to be bought.

He said if the cybersecurity equipment to be purchased is identified, hackers can come up with strategies to hack the equipment.

Gatchalian made the pitch after the DICT requested for a P300 million confidential fund to buy equipment to prevent cybersecurity attacks.

Gatchalian said the DICT can just include in its “line item” budget the funding needed to procure the cybersecurity equipment.

“As a rule, sang-ayon ako na kailangan line item ang mga bibilhin. Hindi puwede dahil mas convenient ang paggamit ng confidential funds ‘yun na ang gagamitin mo… Pero aminado rin ako na na madami sa ating equipment, lalo na ‘yung mga specialized equipment na hindi puwede ipaalam sa buong mundo kung ano ang bibilhin natin. Dahil sa Procurement Law, very strict eh dapat ilagay mo ang terms of reference, kahit walang brand may terms of reference naman (As a rule, I am in favor that the DICT should include the purchase under its line item programs. It cannot use confidential funds just because it is convenient to use…But on the contrary, specialized items to be bought cannot be disclosed to the whole world… Our Procurement Law is very strict, the terms of reference should be included. Even if you don’t specify the brand, the terms of reference must be present),” Gatchalian said.

He said the inclusion of the budget for the purchase of the equipment are among the issued being considered by senators in the proposed amendments to the GPRA, that if it involves national security, then they can relax the law.

“Kung talagang mapapatunayan na ito ay talagang makaka-apekto sa national security natin, bigyan natin ng exemption (If it will be proven that it will