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Cebu News

Over “questionable” bidding: Gov, 11 others sued for graft

May B. Miasco, Mylen P. Manto, Lorraine Mitzi A. Ambrad - The Freeman
Over âquestionableâ bidding: Gov, 11 others sued for graft
Members of the Cebu Provincial Board vote to pass an ordinance authorizing the Capitol to borrow P1.5 billion for the construction of the controversial 20-story resource center.
Lorraine Mitzi Ambrad

CEBU, Philippines — Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III and 11 others are facing charges before the Office of the Ombudsman over the alleged questionable bidding of the 20-story building at the Capitol.

The complaint was filed by Crisologo Saavedra, Jr. who described himself as an anti-corruption advocate.

Saavedra alleged that Davide, the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC), and the Technical Working Group (TWG) favored WT Construction and awarded the P1.3 billion project to the firm despite WT Construction allegedly failing to submit certain bidding requirements.

“The WT Construction is disqualified because it did not qualify on the required 50 percent track record of similar project completed within the period of 10-year on its bid for the 20-storey, P1.3 billion Cebu Provincial project,” the complaint reads.

WT Construction, Saavedra said, violated Republic Act 9184 or Government Procurement Reform Act.

The other respondents in the complaint are BAC Chairman Mark Tolentino; BAC members Jone Siegfred Sepe, Hector Jamora, Danilo Rodas, and Donato Villa; TWG members Josefino Roberto, Edgar Carredo, Rey Marinas, Rica Marie Lanojan, and Chrissie Jane Iman; and private respondent WT Inc. Construction president/CEO and Board of Directors.

Saavedra said BAC should have blacklisted WT Construction after it collected P257.4 million from Cebu Province for doing the ground development of the controversial Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) allegedly without bidding, approved appropriation, and contract.

Saavedra said he was able to obtain information on the cost of the three government projects completed by WT Construction, namely the Talisay City Hall worth P100 million; Carcar City Hall worth P300 million; and Pag-IBIG building, a joint venture with WT Construction (the lot is owned by Pag-IBIG and the P307 million building is owned and constructed by WT).

Saavedra said none of the three listed similar single projects undertaken by WT Construction Inc. will equal the 50 percent of the P1.3 billion, 20-story project that was bid out last November 9, 2018.

He asked the Ombudsman to investigate and charge the respondents in court and to declare the bidding null and void. He also asked the anti-graft office to suspend the respondents preventively while investigation into the case is ongoing.

He also asked the Ombudsman to declare WT Construction a non-compliance bidder and to blacklist the firm future biddings with the Cebu provincial government.

The building at the Capitol is intended to be a mixed-used building, which will house Capitol offices and commercial spaces for rent.

At the Capitol, Davide welcomed the investigation and said it is Saavedra’s right to file a lawsuit.

“Well, iyaha man nang katungod pud… paaboton lang namo ang kiha. Paabot lang mi if patubagon mi (That is his right. We will wait for the complaint; we will wait for orders for us to respond to it),” Davide told reporters on Monday.

Davide said WT Construction was allowed to participate in the bidding as the firm was excluded from the “blacklist.”

“To my knowledge, wala man na na-blacklist, otherwise, dili na siya kaapil sa bidding. Basta, dili siya blacklisted,” he said.

Loan

In a related development, the Provincial Board approved an ordinance that authorizes the provincial government to take a loan of P1.525 billion from the bank for the construction of the controversial building.

Nine board members supported the ordinance, including Tata Salvador, Jude Thaddeus Sybico, Earl Tidy Oyas, Celestino Martinez III, Horacio Franco, Miguel Magpale, Jerome Christian Librando, Jerico Rubio, and Raul Bacaltos.

Meanwhile, those who objected were Board Members Yolanda Daan, Alex Binghay, Tata Toribio, and Edsel Galeos.

Board Member Christopher Baricuatro abstained.

A vote of at least nine is needed to approve a legislative matter.

Explaining his vote, Bacaltos said that while he was among those who voted against giving the governor the authority to sign a P1.3 billion contract with WT Construction, he showed support on the loan ordinance so he will be consistent with his previous votes such as the approval of the P1.9 billion supplemental budget which contains the P1.5 billion budget for the resource center project and was unanimously approved.

Cebu City case

Earlier this month, Saavedra also filed an anti-graft case against the Cebu City Government over the P18 billion Kawit development project.

He said Universal Hotels and Resorts, Inc. (UHRI) is not qualified to enter into a joint venture with the City of Cebu for lack of technical and financial capabilities or experiences as required under City ordinance No. 2154, an ordinance that prescribes guidelines and procedures in entering into joint venture agreements. (FREEMAN)

HILARIO DAVIDE III

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