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Puerto Princesa mayor, city officials face complaint over bidding

MANILA, Philippines – Puerto Princesa City Mayor Lucilo Bayron and other local officials are facing a complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman over the allegedly anomalous bidding and procurement of equipment for a city project.

In the complaint filed by a certain Mansueto Durana Fuertes, Bayron and several members of the city's bids and awards committee (BAC) were accused of violating the Government Procurement Reform Act by awarding a contract for the purchase of heavy equipment despite amendments to the original agreement that have yet to be approved by the city council.

The complainant said the respondents' move of proceeding with the bidding also constituted violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and the Code of Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

Named respondents in the complaint were Bayron, BAC members Aileen Cynthia Amurao, Tiburcio Magay, Arnel Pedrosa, Alberto Jimenez Jr, George Vasquez; city administrator Elena Vergara Rodriguez; Joven Ciriaco Baluyut, Rolly So, Sergio Red, Jerome Padrones, Aida Dusong, Reggie Cantillo, Enrico Gabayan, Carlos Abogado, Ricardo Lagrada, Rosemarie Bacatan, and Roneson Sendaydiego.

In 2015, the city's Sangguniang Panlungsod passed an ordinance ratifying a loan agreement made between the city government and Land Bank of the Philippines, where P540 million was to be provided to finance various city projects.

The BAC then conducted bidding for 4 purchase requests for the procurement of various heavy equipment. Two of the purchase requests, however, did not receive any bids, prompting the BAC to conduct a mandatory review last February to consolidate the requested equipment into one purchase request.

This combined purchase request had a total approved budget of P263,200,000 for 60 units of heavy equipment.

In the mandatory review report, however, the number of units of heavy equipment to be procured was reduced to 45 units, with a total contract cost of P263,200,000.

The report was approved and adopted by the BAC, and later approved by Bayron. In March 2016, RDAK Transport Equipment Incorporated won the bidding for the consolidated purchase request.

But the complainant pointed out that in May 2016, the city mayor sent letters to the Sangguniang Panlungsod requesting legislative authorization for the amendment of the 2015 ordinance ratifying the loan agreement.

This letter, which specified the changes to the number of units of equipment for procurement, was sent after the mandatory review report recommending the changes had been issued and the contract awarded.

The complainant said that by proceeding with the bidding, the respondents violated the procurement law "considering that all the items that were subjected to the bidding has no approved ABC [approved budget for the contract] yet and in fact City Mayor Lucilo Bayron is still requesting the Sangguniang Panlungsod to amend Ordinance No. 04-2015 to cover up the violations that they committed." – Katerina Francisco/Rappler.com