Cebu News

Palarong Pambansa 2024 procurements: Dondon defends council on ‘kickback’ claim

Iris Hazel Mascardo - The Freeman
Palarong Pambansa 2024 procurements: Dondon defends council on �kickback� claim
Councilor Donaldo Hontiveros
Donaldo "Dondon" Hontiveros/Facebook page

CEBU, Philippines — Councilor Donaldo Hontiveros yesterday hit back at those insinuating of “kickback” that would be made in the planned purchases for Cebu City’s hosting of the Palarong Pambansa 2024.

He, however, added that he agrees with Acting Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia halting the procurements for three days so he could closely look into the matter.

Hontiveros clarified that the amounts media personality Jason Monteclar publicized recently were those identified during the initial stage of the budget preparation but were not the actual figures submitted during the actual bidding.

“Unfair man kaayo ni. Gi-scrutinized ni namo (budget list), nisunod mi by the book, ni advance mi’g PR (purchase request), then na award na; but kasabot mi sa gibuhat sa acting mayor nga based on the gisulti ni Jason Monteclar,” Hontiveros said.

He said it is “unfair” for the city councilors to be maliciously alluded to as expecting dirty money as share from the procurement orders.

In a video commentary posted on his social media, Monteclar alleged that the city councilors would have a share in the budget list for the Palarong Pambansa hosting.

“Pero kahibaw gyud ko nga daghan kaayo sa atong mga konsehal ron dira sa Cebu City Government ang nagpanilap og pila ang bahin nila niani,” Monteclar said in his video post.

He proceeded in enumerating the “overpricing” in the allocations, especially identifying the over P21 million for portalets rental.

Last Monday, Garcia announced in a press conference that he ordered the stoppage of the bidding process and for all procurements pending the review he would make within three days.

Hontiveros, chairman of the City Council’s committee on education, science, and technology, though, said he agrees with the acting mayor, whom he said had yet to be apprised about the budget appropriations for the city’s hosting of the Palaro when he did the press conference.

Sought for his reaction, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, who is currently on a six-month preventive suspension, said he would leave the matter to Hontiveros and Cebu City Commission on Sports Commission Chairman John Pages.

“I do not have to comment, because what is there for me to comment on?” he told The Freeman in a telephone interview.

“There are people who are on top of this and I have my full trust and confidence on John Pages and especially Dondon Hontiveros,” he added.

Yesterday, Hontiveros said he already spoke with Acting Mayor Garcia and had already explained to him the list of procurements, including that for the portalets rental.

Garcia has questioned during the press conference why the portalets has to be rented instead of being purchased outright, as they could be used again for future sporting events in the city.

Hontiveros said they benchmarked the amount with Marikina City, which hosted the Palarong Pambansa last year.

He explained that the amount covers the cost for the rental of 478 portalets with portashowers for 17 days. The rental, he said, already includes the fees for the installation and cleaning during the 17 days.

He also clarified that the budget appropriation for the portalets is not P21 million but P18 million.

Riza Gabonia, Hontiveros’ executive assistant, said that if the city would procure the portalets instead of renting them, it would cost more since it would require the hiring of the services of an “expert” (since it is equipped with showers).

The rental cost, on the other hand, already includes the services of the “expert”.

“Kay kung ato nang paliton ang 478, asa man nato na i-(store). Mubayad na sad ta…nya P90,000 ang portabaths with shower, ang portalets P75,000.  So kung imo syang i-compute ‘nya mo-hire pa ka (og personnel), nya mo-rent pa ka’g storage, unya imo rang gamiton for this event, nya pang-maintenance pa ana,” Gabonia said.

On the tumblers that Monteclar alleged costs P11 million, Hontiveros said the amount is for 12,000 tumblers and 12,000 shirts that would be distributed to the athletes and technical officials.

He understands, though, the point of view of the acting mayor in ordering a review of the procurements.

“It would be unfair to the acting mayor nga iyang ipadayon without him knowing all the details.  Mao nang sa among part, maayo ra sad nga among napasabot niya,” he further said.

Hontiveros said that despite Monteclar putting the city councilors in a bad light, they would not be pursuing legal complaints against him. He added, though, that a public apology would be “appreciated”.

“Would like just to inform gna wala miy kickback… I feel the sentiments of the councilors, wala gyud mi ing-ana nga intention. Ang amo trabaho ra ni,” the councilor said.

Last Feb. 29, the executive department of the Cebu City Government requested for an additional P205 million for the hosting of the Palarong Pambansa. This was on top of the approved P200 million that was included in the annual budget for 2024.

Hontiveros said it was always the direction of Mayor Michael Rama that each delegate will go home from the Palaro satisfied with Cebu City’s hosting.

“Ato gyud ipakita nila nga all these things, nga mao ni siya ang direction, again the economic boost, the sports tourism that connects to the province,” he said

He said, though, that should Acting Mayor Garcia decide to slash the amounts following his three-day review of the procurements, he would not mind accepting the decision.

“Open ta for changes….  Siya na may in-charge karon,” Hontiveros said.

He said that prior to the review, 80 to 90 percent of the appropriations were already awarded to the winning bidder or were already scheduled for bidding. — (FREEMAN)

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