Contractor defies DPWH notice to end P711-M Mandaue project for fraudulent track record claim
CEBU CITY—The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has notified a private contractor about the scrapping of a P711.8-million deal to build an underpass in Mandaue City, Cebu province because the contractor had falsified its track record.
The contractor, B.M. Marketing, however, ignored the notice sent by the regional office of the DPWH and continued with the project, a 952-meter, four-lane underpass on UN Avenue in Mandaue leading to the Marcelo Fernand Bridge that connects Mactan island to the Cebu mainland.
Edgar Tabacon, DPWH Central Visayas chief, said his office. had already notified B.M. Marketing that its contract with the government to build the underpass is being scrapped for false declarations “but they go on with the project.”
Asked if the government would pay B.M. Marketing, Tabacon said it was being discussed with the DPWH’s legal office.
The INQUIRER repeatedly tried but failed to reach Edgar Tiu, owner of B.M. Marketing. A text message sent to him was also left unanswered.
In a paper submitted to Tabacon dated March 8, Tiu asked the DPWH not to terminate its contract and denied that his company committed any fraudulent act.
Tiu said the notice to terminate the contract was “premature” because the verification report made as basis for the contract termination was incomplete.
The notice was issued by Tabacon last Jan. 21 but it was received by B.M. Marketing only last March 1.
The DPWH decided to end the contract after its technical working group (TWG) investigation team found that B.M. Marketing falsified its track record to bag the deal.
The investigating team found that the 29.04-km road project, called Black Mountain Eco-Commercial and Industrial Land Development Work, which B.M. Marketing claimed to have completed in nine months, was “non-existent.”
“Thus, this office has determined that your firm cannot anymore continue with the implementation of the aforesaid project due primarily to the submission of bids that contain false documents in order to influence the outcome of eligibility screening, or any other stage of the competitive bidding,” Tabacon said in the notice. “This office has no other recourse but to recommend the termination of the contract,” he said.
In 2020, B.M. Marketing sued the DPWH and won a court injunction that stopped the contract termination
The DPWH filed a motion for reconsideration to reverse the ruling.
As of May 6, the DPWH has yet to receive a feedback from the court regarding its pleading.
Tabacon said the DPWH had no choice but to scrap the deal with B.M. Marketing due to “irregularities and concealment of information and documents.”
Republic Act 9184, or the Procurement Reform Act, allows government agencies or offices to terminate contracts if evidence was found that the supplier, contractor or consultant engaged in illegal deeds and behavior to win the contract.
Unlawful acts included fraud and document falsification.
On Oct. 14, 2020, Public Works Secretary Mark Villar gave the go-signal for the DPWH’s legal service department and its regional office in Central Visayas to file appropriate civil, crimina and administrative cases against B.M. Marketing, its officers and employees, for violation of RA 9184 and other laws.
In his paper submitted to Tabacon, Tiu said it was still premature to terminate the project since the TWG had not completed its verification report.
According to the verification report, the TWG went to Burauen town, Leyte province on Aug. 20, 2019 but didn’t find any available record or application of any building permits for Black Mountain project.
But Tiu said the TWG team was willing to conduct a second ocular inspection with a B.M. Marketing representative.
“That was around August 2019. (Until now), they had not conducted their second inspection. Their verification is therefore incomplete,” said Tiu.
But in the verification report, the TWG said it contacted a representative of B.M. Marketing on Aug. 19, 2019 asking to be guided to the site of the Black Mountain project but the request was denied by the company, citing an unspecified pending case.
The DPWH team went to the municipal hall of Burauen, Leyte on Aug. 20, 2019 and was told that there was no available record or application for any building permits for the project “Black Mountain Eco-Commercial and Industrial Land Development Work,” which B.M. Marketing listed as one of its finished projects.