Quezon City court junks firm’s civil suit vs RobredoBy Marlon Ramos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
A Quezon City court has thrown out for lack of merit the civil case filed by a local company and its Korean partner against the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo over the shelving of a P243-million supply contract of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP).
Also cleared by the court was Chief Supt. Samuel Perez, the BFP officer in charge who had declared a failure of bidding for the procurement of fire-fighting equipment in December 2011 after discovering that the winning bidder, Kolonwel Trading and its partner, In Seung Apparel Co., had allegedly falsified some of the documents they submitted.
In her Aug. 22 ruling, a copy of which was obtained by the Inquirer, Quezon City RTC Branch 22 Judge Charito Gonzales junked the petition of Kolonwel and In Seung asking the court to compel the BFP and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to grant them the contract.
The judge upheld the validity of Perez’s decision ordering the BFP’s bids and awards committee (BAC) to disqualify Kolonwel and In Seung, saying the fire official’s action was “firmly grounded.”
“It must also be emphasized that respondent Perez declared a failure of bidding only after a thorough review/investigation of the records of the procurement process and such a declaration was made as a result of discovered irregularities in the bidding process,” the court ruled.
It said Robredo, who died in a plane crash last month, and Perez “did not act capriciously, arbitrarily or whimsically in declaring a failure of bidding.”
While they were declared as the only “responsive bidder” for the procurement, Gonzales said the petitioners cannot force the DILG and the BFP to sign a notice of award since the “mere proposal of a bidder does not constitute a contract.”
“Considering that respondent Perez validly declared a failure of bidding … petitioners cannot compel (the) respondents, through a writ of mandamus, to issue (them) a notice of award,” the judge said.
Same losing bidder
The case stemmed from Robredo’s decision to disapprove the May 31, 2011, recommendation of the BAC declaring the joint venture of Kolonwel and In Seung as the winning bidder for the supply of 4,197 sets of gloves, coats and trousers, helmets and boots to the BFP.
Kolonwel was the same losing bidder alleging that there were irregularities in the procurement of P1.2-billion worth of pistols of the Philippine National Police.
In his June 30, 2011, memorandum, Robredo said Kolonwel and In Seung failed to comply with the requirements and conditions set in the bidding documents as stated by the Office of the Solicitor General.
The late interior secretary also directed Perez to immediately look into the allegations of a losing bidder that Kolonwel and In Seung falsified the certificates from the Korean Institute of Fire Industry and Technology regarding the fire protection equipment they were offering to the BFP.
Another losing bidder alleged that the Kolonwel and In Seung joint venture had manually filed their income tax returns, in violation of the law requiring all government suppliers to file their income and business tax returns electronically.
Two months after conducting an investigation, Perez declared a failure of bidding after finding out that the allegations against Kolonwel and In Seung were true and that the BAC did not comply with government bidding procedures.
This prompted Kolonwel and In Seung to go to court, asking for the issuance of a writ of mandamus on Feb. 23.