Vico: Cleanup of bidding process saved Pasig gov’t P415M
Pasig City saved nearly P415 million in just one year by cleaning up its procurement process, an amount that Mayor Vico Sotto said had enabled the local government to pass some of the most sweeping relief packages in the country amid the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Figures presented at Sotto’s State of the City Address on Thursday showed that in 2019, reforms that made Pasig’s bidding process stricter and more transparent initially led to savings of P154.7 million, followed by P260 million in the first six months of 2020.
“We were judicious in keeping track of documents, prices and procurement, which is the reason why, in the time of a pandemic, we were able to pass two supplemental budgets,” Sotto said.He added, however, that the massive savings were also made possible because bidders did not pad government contracts with grease money. Rooting out corruption in city hall was the central pillar of his campaign, which succeeded in ousting entrenched incumbent Robert Eusebio in 2019.
“There was no money that went into my pockets,” Sotto said. “There were several who came up to me with offers, but I rebuffed them because that was my promise. There was even one who offered P2 million to speed up the approval of a permit, but we ignored it.”
Since taking office, the millennial mayor has opened up bidding to third-party monitors, and the newly competitive process has been credited with bringing down prices. He said transparency did not just save the city money but also increased the quality of its goods and services.
The city also explicitly instructed bidders to remove “friction costs,” essentially bribes that hastened the process, which Sotto said had become an ingrained part of many companies’ payments.
Part of the P150 million savings in 2019 went into distributing “Pamaskong Handog” bags to every family in Pasig, a major shift from previous years when Sotto alleged that only a small segment of residents who were allied with Eusebio received the handouts.
Sotto has seen a meteoric rise in his popularity since taking office, and the mix of his high profile and independence has at times gotten him caught in the national government’s crosshairs. On Thursday, however, he framed his first year in office as part of a budding movement.
“This isn’t just my fight,” he said. “This is a fight to break down the old ways of running our government and society. This is a fight to turn our backs on bad habits. This is a fight for good governance and people’s participation.”