DPWH puts bid-rigging employees in freezer
MANILA, Philippines–An undisclosed number of Department of Public Works and Highways personnel have been placed under preventive suspension by the agency for allegedly colluding with some contractors in rigging DPWH biddings for millions of pesos worth of infrastructure projects.
Among those suspended were some members of the department’s bids and awards committee (BAC), a top DPWH official disclosed to the Inquirer on Monday.
The official, who asked not to be named for lack of authority to speak to media, said Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson had created a special panel—the Complaints, Validation and Investigation Committee (CVIC)—to look into the bidding irregularities.
The CVIC is headed by Jaime Pacanan, DPWH undersecretary for support services.
Reports on the anomalies reached Singson a month and a half after President Aquino hailed him for having streamlined the department’s bidding process for infrastructure projects.
The President also cited the DPWH for having saved nearly P28 billion through transparent and competitive bidding of projects in the past four years.
Last week, Singson issued a statement indicating that the days of rigged biddings and collusion between contractors and corrupt DPWH personnel were not yet over.
He said some contractors apparently received favorable treatment in project biddings conducted by the agency.
Based on the “results of biddings conducted by central, regional and district engineering offices, we can conclude that some contractors were favored by some of these offices.”
“There are also patterns wherein the same contractors [joined] in the bidding process where winning bidders were rotated among them,” Singson said.
According to the DPWH head, rigged biddings were “still going on despite the suspension of some BAC members who were found culpable of violating Republic Act No. 9184,” the Government Procurement Reform Act.
Singson said he would not hesitate to suspend or fire erring DPWH personnel.
He also reported that “fixers” had been operating in DPWH offices nationwide, peddling projects to contractors by using copies of Special Allotment Release Orders (SAROs) issued by the Department of Budget and Management for DPWH projects.
“This also means that there are DPWH insiders who are involved in the practice of selling SAROs to contractors… These fixers, who are being monitored, obviously have strong connections with some DPWH officials or employees,” he said.
Worse, the same fixers “even get copies of the SAROs even before we officially receive them from the DBM,” Singson said.
The agency, he said, was conducting a thorough investigation of the irregularities.
“Violators of RA 9184 and related laws will be dealt with swiftly, as in recent situations where some district engineering personnel were suspended,” he said, as he also warned contractors found colluding with erring DPWH personnel that they “will be blacklisted from future DPWH biddings.”
The DPWH head has repeatedly warned the agency’s regional and district engineers, among others, against engaging in irregularities in project biddings.
“Biddings should be competitive. There should be no collusion, no favors, no rigging and no negotiated contracts,” he said, stressing there was “no more business as usual in the DPWH.”
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