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Why Palace is silent over Merkel ultimatum

Halfway into the MWSS’ month-long call for counter-bids to its $2-billion Laiban deal, there are still no takers. So the “opening of bids” on Aug. 7 will likely come and go ho-hum. Constructors are shunning the “bidding” that they know to be a sham. MWSS officers are holding it only in pretended transparency. In fact, they have made the bidding process impossible for any right-thinking bidder to join. And that’s the whole point of this last-two-minutes scam of the Arroyo regime.

To begin with, the timetable is too tight. The MWSS took out a print ad last July 3 inviting parties to “apply for eligibility to submit proposal.” This is in mock compliance with the B-O-T Law, which subjects unsolicited proposals to a Swiss challenge. Still it was crudely done. The ad stated that prospectors must submit letters of intent starting July 2, the day before the ad came out, up to July 8 only. A pre-selection conference is set for July 23, which nobody is expected to attend. Bid deadline is Aug. 7. MWSS officers may claim that all this is within the law. In reality, constructors need more than a month to study and contest a huge civil work that would take six years and cost nearly P100 billion.

The entrance fee is also too stiff. The MWSS charges a non-refundable P1 million for “selection/tender documents.” No bidder would throw away such big amount on a charade from which MWSS officers can disqualify them at will. The last time the MWSS held a public bidding, in 2004 for the supply of 400 million liters a day (MLD) of raw water to its reservoir, the tender documents sold for only P1,500. Since Laiban is billed to yield 1,900 MLD (although that’s doubtful), the MWSS can charge five times more, P7,500, if the fee is based on MLD volume. The P1 million is a deal breaker.

MWSS head Diosdado Jose Allado has a lot of explaining to do.

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Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is silent over German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ultimatum to pay NAIA-3 builder Fraport once and for all. That’s because talking can only worsen things. Like, someone might start divulging who in the Arroyo admin took payoffs from the German firm and its Filipino partner Piatco.

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During the Washington hearings of the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes, sleazy tidbits about Fraport-Piatco surfaced. Fraport had sued the RP government for breach of contract in expropriating NAIA-3 in 2004. But the case crumbled when the ICSID found out that Piatco in early 2001 had paid off its own and Fraport execs huge amounts for sinister reasons. Tens of millions of dollars went to banks in Hong Kong, then onto two newly formed British Virgin Islands fronts, Jetstream Pacific and Mainland Global. The stash eventually found their way to public officials’ accounts in Manila.

RP’s American lawyers asked the Anti-Money Laundering Council in 2006 to trace the ownership of the patently dirty funds. Sleuths swiftly went into action. But before the probe got deep enough, Piatco wangled from the Court of Appeals a temporary restraining order. The AMLC ran to the Supreme Court, which at first let the agency dig on, but later upheld the CA in a ponencia by then-Justice Dante Tinga.

The AMLC had to suspend investigation. Had it gone on, culprits would have been unmasked. Jetstream Pacific’s initials, “JP”, resembled too much that of the alias bank account of a biggie on Perea St., Legaspi Village, Makati. Mainland Global looked like the inverted maiden initials of a high official; the first three letters of “Global” could be the giveaway.

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Malacañang’s text brigade is now propagandizing for the Comelec. From a nuisance number that I had long exposed but the NTC did nothing, came this text blast: “+63935-9499694: Where was Roque when Comelec conducted bidding open to the public? Ngaun pinati2gil poll automation. Give us break (blah-blah-blah).”

That number used to malign opposition leaders. Psst, your slip is showing.

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Youths only know Vinzons to be the headquarters of the UP student council and organ Collegian. The reddest campus activists might not have heard that Wenceslao Vinzons, the council head after whom the hall is named, died a war hero. After graduating from UP Law, Vinzons served as the youngest member of the 1934 Constitutional Convention. There he had opposed emergency powers for the President (which Marcos used 40 years later to perpetuate himself in power). When war broke out, Vinzons joined the resistance in Bicol, where he died in battle. Had he survived, he would have made a better President than most.

Finally in Vinzons’ memory a book has been launched. Bintao: Ang Buhay at Kamatayan ni Wenceslao Q. Vinzons is the award-winning three-act play of Efren M. Yambot. Published by Leading Edge Forum, the book is available at all National Bookstore and Power Books branches in Metro Manila. For Internet orders, e-mail emyambot@yahoo.com.

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E-mail: jariusbondoc@workmail.com


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