“This alteration of official documents is a serious criminal offense. We will try to unmask who may be held criminally liable for this offense,” Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr., chairman of the House committee on appropriations, said.
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House mulls raps vs revisers of bid documents
Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - February 15, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Lawmakers will try to identify and hold criminally liable those responsible for falsifying public documents to make it appear that the dummy contractor of Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno’s in-laws had not won any bidding at all.

“This alteration of official documents is a serious criminal offense. We will try to unmask who may be held criminally liable for this offense,” Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr., chairman of the House committee on appropriations, said.

He issued the remarks after discovering conflicting records regarding the bid of Bulacan-based CT Leoncio Construction firm. December 2018 records showed it won the bid in Sorsogon and Catanduanes for infrastructure projects worth a total of P988.5 million.

But a new list submitted by the Department of Public Works and Highways recently indicated CT Leoncio – the firm of Aremar Construction owned by Diokno’s in-laws – didn’t win any bidding for infrastructure projects in Sorsogon for this year.

“In the original list, it was very clear that CT Leoncio won the bid for new projects in Sorsogon and Catanduanes. But after this anomaly in the Department of Budget and Management broke out, the list now turns out CT Leoncio never won any bid at all,” he said.

The new list indicated CT Leoncio’s competitors won the bid. “If in 2017 and 2018 CT Leoncio had been very lucky in bidding in Bicol, it’s very unlucky this year. CT Leoncio had not bagged a single project in Sorsogon – very strange,” Andaya said in Filipino.

Diokno has repeatedly denied any involvement in the deal, insisting he does not involve himself in the business of his in-laws, Sorsogon Vice Gov. Esther Hamor and her husband Casiguran Mayor Edwin Hamor, who own Aremar Construction.

The committee managed to get copies of deposit slips showing transfer of funds amounting to a total of P81 million from CT Leoncio and other contractors to Aremar. Andaya said this only proved CT Leoncio was a “dummy” of Aremar which really won the bid.

Andaya recalled that the early bidding of new DPWH projects for 2019 was made possible by Diokno’s Circular Letter 2018-8 dated July 2018, prescribing the “Guidelines on the Conduct of Early Procurement for the fiscal year 2019 National Expenditure Program.”

Under these guidelines, Andaya said Diokno instructed all heads of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government to “undertake Early Procurement Activities from October to December 2018, upon the submission of the FY 2019 NEP to Congress.”

Andaya said these activities included pre-procurement conference until post-qualification of bids and recommendation by the bids and awards committees to award the contract to the winning bidder.

“This means even when Congress was still studying the proposed 2019 budget, Diokno had already set bidding activities for infrastructure projects and government contracts,” he said.

Criminal complaint

Andaya said his committee, along with the committee on public accounts chaired by Minority Leader Danilo Suarez, is preparing a criminal complaint against Diokno for the latter’s P75-billion insertions in the 2019 budget program and his alleged role in the bagging of key contracts by a firm reportedly owned by his in-laws. According to Suarez, Diokno could be charged with fund juggling.

Diokno earlier said the practice of early procurement started in 2009, when Andaya was budget secretary of then president and now Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

“That’s fake news. We are fed up with Secretary Diokno’s lies and evasive antics. He should just explain himself in court,” Andaya said.

The practice of starting the procurement process before the beginning of the succeeding budget year was introduced to ensure efficient and timely implementation of projects.

The Aquino administration used it when it introduced the concept of “budget as release document.” It allowed awarding of contract before the enactment of the national budget for the succeeding year to enable agencies to take advantage of the dry-season months of January to May or June and speed up project implementation.

Previously, the procurement process started upon signing of the budget at the start of the year and after the release of special allotment release orders (SAROs) by the DBM.

A SARO served as the authority to obligate funds. The “budget as release document” concept dispensed with the SARO. – With Jess Diaz, Janvic Mateo

BENJAMIN DIOKNO CT LEONCIO CONSTRUCTION ROLANDO ANDAYA JR
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