Duterte admits sharing table with 'golf course' syndicate
The supposed "golf course" syndicate has figured in many of President Rodrigo Duterte's recent speeches, as he usually uses it to illustrate how easily the system of public bidding can be abused by private individuals.
But in his speech on Tuesday, February 6, at the anniversary of the Bureau of Customs (BOC), Duterte admitted sharing a table with the syndicate and even flirting with their women.
"Kaya lang ako nandoon sa table nila kasi magaganda 'yung babae nila, so pinapatulan ko. 'Yung babae kinakausap ko, hindi sila," said Duterte.
(I was only at their table because their women are beautiful, so I was flirting with them. I was talking to their women, not them.)
The "golf course" syndicate is called such because they supposedly go golfing as they wait out the bidding process in cities with upcoming big-ticket government projects.
Duterte said they hop from one city to another, in search of their next cash cow.
"There's a group here in the Philippines just going around playing golf and just hearing which city has bidding," said the President.
"The legitimate bidder will bid a certain amount, say P100 million or P95 [million]. Then these fools will dive the price down, so it's the lowest [bid]," he said.
The syndicate members then divide among themselves the payment for the project.
Because of such a practice, Duterte declared the concept of awarding a government project to the lowest bidder as the "source of corruption" in the country.
Out of anger for the "golf course" syndicate, Duterte warned its members may one day be ambushed.
"Kilala ko, gusto ko nga patayin mga – one of these days mapa-ambush iyan," he threatened. (I know them, I want to kill them – one of these days, they'll be ambushed.)
Members of the syndicate, if such group indeed exists, should be penalized for violating the Government Procurement Reform Act.
The law considers it a crime when two or more bidders connive to ensure a project is awarded to a pre-arranged lowest bid.
The penalty for such a crime is imprisonment of 6 to 15 years.
If the President himself knows the identity of the members of this criminal group, what steps has he taken to ensure the group is stopped?
Duterte never elaborates on that particular concern.
There are many options he can take. With his large confidential and intelligence funds, he could order a case buildup on the group with the end-goal of filing a case against them. He could tap the Department of Justice (DOJ) or the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Instead, Duterte pushes aggressively for eliminating public bidding and replacing it with the Swiss challenge method.
A Swiss challenge is the course the government takes when dealing with unsolicited proposals. This is when the government invites private groups to make competing offers, while giving the original proponent the right to match them.
But Duterte is ignoring this.
"There was a statement from Congress that it cannot be altogether removed. I will not obey you or even the COA (Commission on Audit)," he said on Tuesday. – Rappler.com
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