Stop Corruption in Public Biddings

When President Rodrigo Roa Duterte assumed the presidency in 2016, among the thoughts that he shared with the Filipino people in one of his talks, was his idea that determining the winners in public biddings for government projects should not be based on the lowest complying calculated bid as this is where corruption thrives.

The President is right. He can never be wrong with all the unfinished, if not abandoned government infrastructure projects we can see at the most, or sub-standard government projects, at the least. 

Supply of defective computers to government agencies and supply of a second-hand tourist bus, instead of a brand-new unit as required in the specifications, were also among the reported incidents of non-compliance by a supplier of a government contract.

All these problems have one thing in common though. Most, if not all, of the contractors or suppliers of these projects offered the lowest bid during the biddings for said projects. 

 

Compliance Issues

Maybe, this should now be enough reason for a real champion against corruption in the legislature to file a bill to amend RA 9184 otherwise known as the Government Procurement Reform Act. Some provisions of the law are being abused and/or exploited by the members of some Bids and Award Committees of the government. 

Take for instance the BAC of a government agency that has one of the biggest budgets of the government. 

In its recent bidding for the supply of computers worth billions of pesos, among the bidders pre-qualified by its BAC, has allegedly compliance issues with the same government agency for another similar supply contract. And yet the said BAC never took cognizance of the compliance issue on said bidder. 

In the same government agency, but another bidding for a project worth over P4 billion, one of the bidders pre-qualified by the BAC allegedly also had compliance issues with another project under a local government unit. 

Moreover, the said bidder is also being dragged into a corruption case against certain local officials for its alleged delivery of a used tourist bus instead of a new one, as specified in the terms of the contract. And when the officials of the said BAC was asked about their position on these issues, their easiest excuse was, they followed the provisions of RA 9184.

 

Unitentional Omission

Unfortunately, whether it was  an unintentional omission on the part of the legislators in the crafting of RA 9184 not to require all prospective bidders of government projects to submit a certificate of good standing and a certification that a bidder has no pending cases regarding a contract with the government,  some BACs of the various government agencies no longer exert due diligence to conduct a background investigation of its prospective bidders, even if compliance issues on a particular bidder has been raised with the said BAC. 

“We only follow the provisions of RA 9184.” Is the simplest justification some BAC members say to explain their insensitivity to such issues. 

But the role of BAC is to protect the interest of the government by choosing only the most qualified and complying bidder to undertake government projects/contracts. 

Hence, it should undertake appropriate actions to verify allegations of compliance issues of bidders, especially if the bidder is a habitual non-complying contractor or suppler. 

Maybe, these BAC officials could be legally correct as that is what the law provides. 

But that, I believe is not the essence of the law in protecting the interest of the government. However, BAC officials have millions of reasons to justify their acts.

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Thursday, 24 January 2019
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