Whistleblower maintains: 9-in-1 backhoe overpriced
BY JONATHAN GUSTILO
KALIBO, Aklan – Keeping his promise, Giovanni Rubite submitted an “Amended Report of a Procurement Anomaly” to the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman Visayas.
Rubite is the chapter vice president of the Ombudsman-accredited Samahang Grupong Bantay Mamamayan Inc. (SGBMI). He insisted that the 9-in-1 heavy equipment bought by the local government of Kalibo last year was overpriced.
Rubite said Mayor William Lachica had been informed by the supplier, CAMEC JCB Corp., that it was the exclusive distributor of JCB 4CX ECO 4X4X4 Backhoe Loader 9-1 in the country and offered the equipment at P13.95 million.
But despite the information, Rubite said Lachica made a Purchase Request in the amount of P15 million for one unit of the backhoe loader.
While competitive public bidding is the primary mode of procurement, Republic Act (RA) 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act provides for other alternative methods of procurement whenever justified to promote economy and efficiency.
Section 48 of RA 9184 allows alternative methods of procurement: limited source bidding, direct contracting, repeat order, shopping and negotiated procurement.
By its very nature, said Rubite, a competitive public bidding aims to protect public interest by giving the public the best possible advantages through open competition.
Another purpose of public bidding is to avoid or preclude suspicion of favoritism and anomalies in the execution of public contracts.
But in this case, Rubite said, Lachica already knew that the supplier was the exclusive distributor of the equipment. Still, instead of using the alternative method of direct contracting and buying the equipment at its preferred price of P13.95 million, Rubite said Lachica resorted to the primary mode of procurement by public bidding, thereby giving the supplier – an exclusive distributor of the equipment – an undue advantage.
Rubite said the public bidding was conducted on December 26, 2012 as scheduled even if Typhoon “Quinta” was lashing the province.
If he were to be believed, pre-bid documents -- Obligation Request and the Requisition and Issue Slip – were hastily prepared while the Kalibonhons were busy cleaning their offices and homes.
CAMEC JCB Corp. was the only supplier that submitted its eligibility requirements and bid. The Bids and Awards Committee declared it as the Single Calculated/Rated Responsive Bid.
According to Rubite, the local government of Kalibo ended up paying P14,740,000 for the equipment which was originally offered at P13.95 million.
Rubite accused Lachica of violating Section 3(g) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for entering into a transaction grossly disadvantageous to the government.
Rubite included in his amended report Vice Mayor Madeline Regalado, Sangguniang Bayan members Nilda Tambong, Ariel Fernandez, Arnaldo Tejada, Mark Mitchell Sy, George Quimpo, Peter Jene Lao, Rodillo Policarpio, Ananias Solina; Nannie Roldan, Municipal Budget Officer and Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) chair; Engr. Jessie Fegarido, BAC vice chairperson; Elsa Tabuena, municipal treasurer and BAC member; and BAC members Malou Lachica, Engr. Marlou Villanueva and Engr. Emerson Lachica.
In an interview, Roldan told Panay News the BAC followed the right process.
“We received recommendations from the Kalibo Sangguniang Bayan which gave the authority to the Mayor to enter into a loan agreement with the Land Bank of the Philippines, and reviewed the pertinent documents submitted to us, including the canvassed market price culled from the internet,” the BAC chairperson explained.
Roldan stressed the BAC complied with the requirements, including the publication of the bidding in a national newspaper.
“We don’t allow pre-arranged biddings. The usual procedures were strictly followed in accordance of the law,” Roldan added.
Pressed for comment, lawyer Buenos Aires dela Cruz-Rivera, legal counsel of the local government of Kalibo, declined to issue any statement, contending that she has yet to receive an official copy of said complaint. (With a report from Recto Vidal/PN)