MANILA, Philippines—A ranking official of the Volunteers against Crime and Corruption (VACC) believes that irregularities and “old hands” at the Bureau of Customs (BoC) are delaying the bidding process for the P442.3-million National Single Window (NSW) Phase 2 Project, a report from Radyo INQUIRER 990 AM said recently.
In an interview, VACC founding chairman Dante Jimenez claimed that “old hands” in the BoC could be deliberately delaying the process so that they could influence its result and hand the contract to their bidder of choice.
“Sad to say, napaliligiran pa rin si Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon ng old hands sa Bureau of Customs na nakakaimpluwensiya sa mga proseso,” Jimenez said.
Jimenez said his claim was boosted by Biazon’s continued refusal to furnish him copies of pertinent documents in connection with the project, despite repeated demands.
Despite this, Jimenez said he’s giving Biazon one last chance to respond to his request. If he fails to do so, Jimenez said he will file an administrative case for violation of Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
He said Section 5 of RA 6713 requires all public officials and employees to respond to letters, telegrams or other means of communications sent by the public, fifteen (15) working days from receipt thereof, violation of which could result to disqualification from holding public office.
As per the Bidding Under Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act, the allowed maximum number of calendar days for the evaluation of technical proposals is 21 plus two days.
However, the evaluation has not been completed since the opening of technical proposals for the NSW2 project last January 21, 2013. Since January 21 until March 4, 43 days have passed, almost double the number of days prescribed by law.
Also, RA 9184 sets the maximum number of days from the date of posting of the invitation to bid up to the end of the evaluation of technical proposals at 90 days plus 2.
However, since the posting was done November 20, 2012, it has already been 90 days just for the months of December, January and February.
Despite the limited time allowed by law, BoC Director, appointed as ad-hoc BAC Member, Jonathan Soriano, allegedly traveled to Legazpi City last February 19, 2013, delaying the process by one more week.
This was aside from the one-week delay from February 4 to 8 for the BoC’s anniversary celebration in Cebu which Soriano attended for only two days.
Also, Soriano was seen with two officials of a company bidding for the project, who are very close to him, despite regulations preventing members of the Bids and Awards Committee from having direct contact with prospective bidders.
Earlier, Jimenez warned the BoC against entertaining foreign companies without Filipino partners when bidding out projects, as this may be unconstitutional and illegal.
He made the warning after (MISTG) Management and Information System and Technology Group from the BoC, headed by Deputy Commissioner Caridad Manarang, thru her newly appointed BAC member, Director Jonathan Soriano, suddenly changed the eligibility requirement for the NSW2 project by inserting a ONE LINER SENTENCE changing the eligibility to change, thereby allowing FOREIGN BIDDERS to bid by themselves, without a majority local partner, which is against the law. While this eligibility was changed back to its original requirement on its 3rd invitation sent out last November of last year, for the rebid of the NSW2 project, irregularities continue to happen on this bidding process.
Jimenez said the VACC is closely watching the process, researching, gathering and compiling information so it could file administrative and criminal cases against officials who could be found conniving with bidders.