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A PCSO supplier's collection effort.

It is because government-owned and controlled corporations, as well financial institutions in the previous administration, had unsavory reputations, that the present P-Noy government is so obsessed in reining in GOCCs to pursue the "daangmatuwid."

Well, there are GOCCs that are still obstinate. The mere mention of their name exudes some kind of an unpleasant image, to the perception of not only their customers but suppliers as well.

Many say that one of them is the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.

Argent Business Consultants and Store Specialists is a PCSO supplier of drugs and medicines for indigent patients since 2006. But since the onset of the P-Noy term in mid-2010, Argent has not been paid by PCSO for the items it had already delivered and supplied. As of today, its collectibles stand at P1.34 million.

The amount may be miniscule compared to those of many other PCSO suppliers, but to Argent which is just a moderate-size corporation, the amount due to it means so much to its day-to-day operation.

The lottery agency must be such a heartless GOCC that it continues to deny Argent payment for products it already supplied the agency for more than three years now.And why does PCSO refuse to pay its small-time supplier?

The agency's fund allocation department said supporting documents that are material to those unpaid accounts were lost from its files. The transfer of the agency from its former location in the Q.I. compound in Quezon City to its present location in the PICC complex may have caused the loss of those documents, officials claimed.

Now many will agree that is not a sensible reason for non-payment. It is clearly not the fault of Argent.

And how did all this plea come to our attention?

Lawyer Carlito S. Villanueva furnished this columnist a copy of his letter addressed to Jose Ferdinand M. Rojas II, general manager of PCSO. Copies were also furnished to Margarita P. Juico, chairman; and board directors Ma. Aleta Tolentino, Betty Nantes, Mabel Mamba, and Francisco Joaquin III.

Quoted herein are pertinent paragraphs culled from that letter of lawyer Carlito Villanueva (edited due to space limitation) :

"I am writing on behalf of my friend Robert J. Lim who manages Argent Business Consultants and Store Specialists. They own Med-Express, a local pharmaceutical company. In 2006 Argent and PCSO entered into a business relationship by virtue of a memorandum of agreement, to provide drugs and medicines to indigent patients as authorized by PCSO. The former even established a convenient facility called Fulfillment Center near PCSO, exclusively serving the indigent program of PCSO. It extended a R20 million credit ceiling to the latter."

But in 2010 the credit ceiling allowed PCSO allegedly exceeded its maximum limit, and Argent, as provided in their MOA, suspended its services to PCSO, the Villanueva letter said. When requested for payment, the agency said pertinent documents related to those unpaid accounts could no longer be located. And cited the transfer of their office to its present location a few years ago may have caused the loss of those documents.

"What happened was truly regrettable, but it was a contingency that Argent had nothing to do with," said lawyer Villanueva.

In fairness, PCSO never denied its unpaid obligation to Argent.

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Title Annotation:Opinions and Editorials
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Date:Feb 20, 2014
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