By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senator Francis Tolentino has urged the government to prioritize Filipinos in procuring products and services.
He recently called for the passage of Senate Bill No. 1102, which seeks to institutionalize the “Filipino first” policy in the government’s procurement system and promote Filipino ingenuity and creativity.
“Our procurement law does not contain provisions helping Filipino products. [The Filipino first policy] is not mandatory so I think it is only proper to give chance to Filipino manufacturers, who, I believe, will not produce low quality products…so that our products will be promoted,” Tolentino said in an interview with Senate reporters Tuesday.
In the measure he filed last October, the neophyte senator lamented that “the State has not given much attention and focus on the importance and benefits” of patronizing Filipino products, despite the Constitution mandating it to prefer Filipino labor, domestic materials, and locally- produced goods to make them competitive.
The bill seeks to amend Section 43 of the Republic Act No. 9184, the Government Procurement Reform Act, and mandates government entities to give preference to the purchase of domestically-produced and Filipino-made goods, supplies, and materials, as well as Filipino suppliers of services that meet specified or desired quality.
“With this bill, before any government institution or agency can procure products and services from eligible foreign suppliers, there must be a certification or clearance that there is no existing domestic and Filipino supplier who can supply and satisfy the procurement need,” Tolentino said in his proposal.
RA 9184 currently allows the government to procure goods and services from foreign manufactureres and distributors but it does not require the preferential purchase of Filipino products.
Tolentino’s bill is still pending in the committee level.