Rigged biddings: Devious pols’ business
FULL DISCLOSURE - Fidel Abalos (The Freeman) - April 29, 2019 - 12:00am

Unquestionably, this decade has been marked with unforgiving catastrophes. Just last week, in fact, two unrelated strong tremors hit Luzon and Eastern Visayas in less than 24 hours apart. Both beyond Intensity 6, these tremors left scores dead and destroyed buildings, houses, infrastructures, etc., especially, in Luzon.

Also, not long ago (October, 30, 2018), Typhoon Rosita wreaked havoc in the Cagayan region, the Cordilleras and Quirino province and left a whooping P1.8 billion losses in agriculture alone. Likewise, in 2013, not just a very strong earthquake hit the Visayas, Super-typhoon Yolanda washed out several areas in the provinces of Leyte and Samar too.

Worse, apart from these unforgiving catastrophes, the country was also in the receiving end of terrorism (the Marawi siege in 2017); endless banditries and notorious kidnappings perpetrated by the Abu Sayyaf; ruthless killings; and senseless bombings even in places of worship.

Just like many tragedies in the past, however, the recent one also brought about the best character in most of us, generosity. Sadly, however, some traditional politicians took advantage of our brethren’s misfortune by letting the voting population know of their superficial concerns through massive exploitation of photo opportunities.  It is not surprising though. The mid-term election is forthcoming.  They saw it as an opportunity to do campaigning even if such will leave a bad taste in the mouth of some decent voters. On the other hand, some sectors took some religious spins on this tragedy. That the residents of these places deserved to be punished for their sins.

Whatever the personal motives or interpretations shall be, the fact remains that scientifically, natural tragedies do happen once in a while and depending on its strength, may or may not bring about destruction to anyone. If it does happen, however, the weaker structures will suffer the most.

Notably, to some extent, nature has also conspired with well-meaning citizens, to do good as well, in unearthing potential anomalies. For instance, the tremor that hit the Visayas in 2013. To recall, as photos reveal, some kilometers of damaged concrete roads and bridges in Bohol didn’t have or have insufficient steel bars.

The same was true in Cebu where the Cebu International Convention Center’s (CICC) interiors crumbled. Apparently, poorly built, these roads, bridges and structures cannot withstand tremors of such magnitude. Thus, certainly, when these infrastructures were built, some unscrupulous people must have siphoned enough money and rendered actual construction destruction-bound.

With this in mind, as reconstruction begins in these badly hit areas, we have more reasons to worry. It is a known fact that politicians wield so much power especially in the countryside.  Most of them are astute businessmen too. They own types of business establishments that heavily deal with the needs of both national and local governments. These are mostly construction related like hardware and sand and gravel. Also, most local government units (LGUs) have heavy equipment so they (politicians) are opening gas stations as well. With the LGUs’ Bids and Awards Committees (BACs) under their total control and co-bidders downright cohorts, they’ll surely win, albeit, under cover of their distant relatives’ or close friends’ names.

On the other hand, some LGUs would prefer to engage contractors instead of undertaking the projects themselves. To this, we know, some politicians do have their own construction outfits too.  Thus, in both circumstances, the possibility that biddings will be rigged is very high. Therefore, the likelihood that substandard projects will again sprout is an unavoidable reality.

So that, with these practices imbedded in the system, these politicians will continue to deprive us the benefits of free and open competition and/or transparency in the conduct of these transactions. As a result, the poorest of the poor who are really wanting that much needed economic boost continue to suffer.

On the contrary, these corrupt politicians who are already living in filthy abundance will tend to accumulate more millions through their oft-repeated devious means, rigged biddings.

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