It could take months before actual rehabilitation work can begin, and residents of the war-torn city are already calling on the government to reject the blueprint drafted by the Chinese-led consortium.
The STAR/KJ Rosales
2 Chinese companies in Marawi rehab blacklisted by World Bank in 2009
Ian Nicolas Cigaral ( - May 15, 2018 - 3:12pm

MANILA, Philippines — After a US-backed Philippine military defeated ISIS-affiliated militants in the principal Islamic city of Marawi, all eyes are now on the rebuilding of the battle-scarred city—a role that is expected to be played by a group of Chinese companies with two members that previously debarred by the World Bank for attempting to rig procurement process.

It could take months before actual rehabilitation work can begin, and residents of the war-torn city have already called on the government to reject the blueprint drafted by the Chinese-led consortium.

In 2009, China State Construction Corp. and China Geo-Engineering Corp. were blacklisted by the Washington-based multilateral lender after an investigation found that the two Chinese firms were among the companies involved in collusive bidding schemes for a major World Bank-funded roads project in the Philippines.

According to the World Bank, the probe uncovered evidence of a major cartel involving local and international firms bidding on contracts under Phase One of the Philippines National Roads Improvement and Management Program.

The firms participated in a collusive scheme designed to “establish bid prices at artificial, non-competitive levels and to deprive the borrower of the benefits of free and open competition,” it added. 

As a result, China State Construction and China Geo Engineering were prevented from bidding on future World Bank-financed contracts for at least five years.

“Misuse of public money is a problem for everyone. It deprives the poorest people of the development funds that are so vitally needed and it undermines public confidence in public and private institutions,” World Bank’s James Adams was quoted as saying in a press release dated January 14, 2009.

In a rousing address to troops in October last year, President Rodrigo Duterte declared Marawi liberated from terrorists after five months of fighting that gave state forces their first taste of urban warfare.

Early this year, Duterte announced that an estimated $1.5-billion contract to repair Marawi will be bid out to the team led by five Chinese firms with four Filipino partners. Both China State Construction and China Geo Engineering are members of the consortium.

Officials say the Marawi restoration project will undergo a Swiss challenge system, where third parties can submit competing bids while the original proponent will be given the right to match these offers. 

But anti-China sentiments had been simmering among displaced Marawi residents, who claim they were not consulted by the government.

"Plans have been made without our participation. Plans that neither bear the stamp of our will nor reflect our culture. Plans whose mechanics and implementation are not clear to us. But one thing is clear: the people of Marawi are largely left out," civilian group Ranaw Multi-Sectoral Movement said in a statement last March, as reported by media.

"Those who came to present the plan dismissed our comments, recommendations, and protestations as though we knew nothing and have no business getting involved in rebuilding our very own city," they added. — With reports from Rupert Mangilit

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