Vico Sotto says he refused P2 million offered as grease money

JC Gotinga
The Pasig mayor announces savings worth P414.7 million after cleansing the city government’s bidding process for project contracts

STATE OF THE CITY. Pasig Mayor Vico Sotto during his State of the City Address on July 2, 2020. Photo from Sotto's Facebook

MANILA, Philippines – Marking his first year as Pasig mayor with a “State of the City Address,” Vico Sotto said he had refused P2 million offered to him as grease money for a business permit, as he highlighted gains from cleansing the local government’s bidding process for project contracts.

The local government’s “truly competitive” bids and awards process for service and supply contracts has saved the city a total of P414.7 million since October 2019, Sotto said in his speech on Thursday, July 2, which was also Araw ng Pasig (Pasig Day).

The mayor credited the city’s “maayos” (proper) bids and awards committee with the feat, but added, “Nagagawa rin po natin ‘to dahil walang perang napupunta sa bulsa ko (We are able to achieve this also because no money goes into my pocket).”

Looking around at his fellow officials at the Tanghalang Pasigueño theater where he delivered his speech, Sotto said, “Alam po ninyo na may mga ibang lumapit sa akin, may dala-dalang pera. Tinanggihan ko po ‘yon dahil ‘yun po ang pangako ko sa taong bayan.”

(You know that some have approached me with offers of money. I refused because that is my promise to the people.)

“Mayroon pong nagdala sa opisina ko ng P2 million para mapabilis ;yung approval ng kanyang permit. Hindi po natin pinansin ‘yon (Someone brought P2 million to my office to speed up the approval of their business permit. We ignored it),” he said.

In 2019, Sotto campaigned on a platform of sweeping reforms against patronage politics and corruption, and beat then incumbent mayor Bobby Eusebio by a wide margin – ending the nearly 3-decade political dominance of the Eusebio family in Pasig.

“Sa mga nagnenegosyo sa Pasig, ‘yung malalaking korporasyon: Kung mayroon na kayong friction cost, kasi ‘yan talaga ‘yung kalakaran sa gobyerno – mayroon talaga kayong binibigay dati sa mayor – tanggalin na lang ninyo sa mga friction cost ninyo,” Sotto said in his speech.

(To those who do business in Pasig, the big corporations: If you already have friction cost, because that was the way things worked in the government – you really used to give something to the mayor – just remove it from your friction cost.)

Consider it as savings, or else give it to charity, Sotto urged businesses.

“Kung ayaw ‘nyo, i-donate ‘nyo sa pamahalaan. Nangyari na po ‘yan – may resibo, para alam natin na talagang pumasok sa kaban ng bayan at hindi sa bulsa ng mayor o ng politiko,” he added.

(If you don’t want that, then donate it to the government. That’s been done before – with a receipt, so we know it really went to the city’s coffers and not into the pocket of the mayor or some politician.)

In his speech, Sotto enumerated his administration’s achievements in public health, education, social welfare, reforms in the bureaucracy, and its response to the coronavirus pandemic.

In September 2019, as his then fledgling administration dealt with auditing and fiscal issues left behind by the previous administration, Sotto imposed strict rules on bidding and procurement processes.

He streamlined the process, instituted measures for transparency – such as livestreaming bidding sessions – and encouraged reporting corruption.

Sotto also vowed never to accept “kickbacks” or grease money.

On Thursday, the mayor said his promise of lowering bidding prices of contracts by at least 10% was delivered, which led to hundreds of millions in savings.

“Sa tamang pagpapalakad, nagiging mas marami ang potential bidders, mas malaki ang natitipid ng pamahalaan, mas marami, at mas tama, at mas de-kalidad ang mga nakukuha nating produkto at serbisyo,” Sotto said in his speech.

(With the right governance, potential bidders increase, the government saves more, and we get bigger, more appropriate, better quality products and services.) –

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JC Gotinga

JC Gotinga often reports about the West Philippine Sea, the communist insurgency, and terrorism as he covers national defense and security for Rappler. He enjoys telling stories about his hometown, Pasig City. JC has worked with Al Jazeera, CNN Philippines, News5, and CBN Asia.