MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque downplayed concerns over the possible involvement in Marawi rehabilitation of two Chinese firms blacklisted by the World Bank for corrupt practices.
Roque, on Thursday, May 24, said the companies in question, China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) and China Geo-Engineering Corporation (CGC), deserve a second chance in the Philippines.
"Maybe everyone is entitled to a second opportunity. But we will be watching, monitoring. The Filipino people will be watching," he said in a mix of English and Filipino.
He was speaking at a press conference in Marawi City a day after the first anniversary of the Marawi siege.
The two Chinese firms were blacklisted in 2009 for allegedly colluding with local companies in the Philippines to rig the bidding of road projects partly financed by the World Bank.
The World Bank barred CSCEC and CGC for a period of 6 and 5 years, respectively, from participating in projects financed by the bank.
Roque said President Rodrigo Duterte was not aware that the Chinese companies had been blacklisted.
He, however, said that because the blacklisting was eventually lifted, the companies are legally able to engage in projects in the Philippines.
Bangon Marawi Task Force chief and Housing Secretary Eduardo del Rosario, meanwhile, gave assurances that, this time around, there will be no collusion between Chinese firms and local ones.
"I can assure you, in this bidding there will be no collusion because the bidding is yet to come in the Swiss challenge," he said.
He said that, through the Swiss challenge, any company can challenge the bid of the Bangon Marawi Consortium, the group of 9 companies offering to rebuild Marawi's most affected area and of which CSCEC and CGC are members.
"Any developer can challenge the Chinese state if their bid price can be outbidded by other developers. It's open, it's transparent," said Del Rosario.
He spoke positively of CSCEC's capability to carry out the critical project, saying the firm is the world's biggest construction company and thus has a "huge capacity to undertake big projects."
Del Rosario announced a new date for the start of the Swiss challenge period – May 30 or May 31.
Groundbreaking is expected to take place on June 21, at the earliest. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.