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Bidding for license plate production not rigged – LTO

Aika Rey
Bidding for license plate production not rigged – LTO
The Land Transportation Office says consultations were made for the estimated costing for license plates and sticker production

MANILA, Philippines – The Land Transportation Office (LTO) on Tuesday, December 12, refuted claims on alleged rigging of bids for the production of license plates and adio frequency identification (RFID) stickers.

LTO Executive Director Romeo Vera Cruz and property custodian Roberto Se appeared Tuesday before the House joint committee on transportation and good government and public accountability to discuss the alleged anomalies in the procurement of license plates.

The LTO announced on December 1 that Filipino-German company Trojan Computer Forms Manufacturing Corporation and J.H. Tonnjes E.A.S.T. GmbH & Co. KG Joint Venture will make its initial delivery of vehicle license plates starting March 2018 after it bagged the P978.8-million deal with the agency.

However, representatives questioned the selection process for the winning bidder for the production of license plates, saying that the variance of the bid and the approved budget for the contract (ABC) is “too small” at 2%.

Rep Johnny Pimentel, chair of the House committee on good government and public accountability, biddings usually have a variance of about 15%, citing infrastructure projects.

Se explained that the costing was based from their previous contract and consultations from the suppliers who joined the bidding, hence the small variance between the winning bidder.

The losing bidder was joint venture EHA Hoffman Intl GmbH with Madras Security Printers and iPay Commerce Enterprise at P980 million, while the joint venture of Utsch AG and Holy Family Printing Corp was disqualified due to lack of certification from the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System (PhilGEPS).

Vera Cruz cleared the claims of a rigged bidding as alleged by lawyer Leo Romero. Romero is a counsel of the disqualified bidder, he claimed.

“It’s unfounded. Because there were 3 who participated. Has there been [rigging], as alleged by Atty Romero, then only one would have submitted the bid on September 30,” he said.

Vera Cruz also refuted Romero’s claim that the bidding was unconstitutional, saying that there was no approved budget for the project.

Loremee Pereda, Supervising Budget and Management specialist for the Department of Budget and Management, said that P1 billion was realloacted from the budget of the Department of Transportation under the 2017 General Appropriations Act for the project.

Resolve issues

Vera Cruz said that 3 million vehicles purchased from July 2016 to December 2017 will receive their license plates by next year. Backlog on vehicle license plates hit 8 million since 2014, according to LTO.

The LTO also procured machinery worth P75 million to help fast-track the production.

Vera Cruz also asked the Supreme Court (SC) and the Commission on Audit (COA) to resolve the issues on the prior license plate contract so the rest of the 5 million backlog can be resolved.

On December 7, LTO chief Edgar Galvante said he will only resign if Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade or President Rodrigo Duterte asked him to after calls by House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez’s for resignation over the delayed release of license plates. 

Galvante was not present during the hearing citing health reasons.

LTO traced the delay back in 2013, when when plates for 2014 to 2018 were questioned before the courts and the COA which held their release. (READ: Car owners to LTO: Watch dealers, fix license plate release)

In June 2016, the LTO said the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order preventing them from releasing 700,000 license plates turned over by the Bureau of Customs.– Rappler.com

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Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.