Lacson, Sotto: Duterte barked up the wrong tree, DPWH chose Senate building contractor
MANILA, Philippines — It was the Department of Public Works and Highways (DWPH) that picked the new Senate building’s contractor, which is now being questioned by President Rodrigo Duterte, two senators said Tuesday.
“President Duterte has been grossly misinformed, hence he barked up the wrong tree. He should have asked his own Department of Public Works and Highways, being the procuring and implementing agency of the project,” Senator Panfilo Lacson said in a statement.
“It was the DPWH that prepared the Program Of Works, the Terms of Reference and all bid documents, conducted the bidding, awarded, prepared the contract, signed the contract, and issued the notice to proceed, including the cost of the building. The Senate representative was only an observer during the bidding process,” he added.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III, for his part, said the upper chamber was only tasked to come up with the design of the building.
“It’s best if he asks the DPWH because we assigned everything to them. Design lang ang sa Senate [The Senate was only assigned with the design],” Sotto said in a message to reporters.
In a public address aired late Monday, Duterte questioned the choice of contractor for the Senate’s new building, saying it was previously investigated for being involved in rigged bidding.
The contract to build the new Senate building in Taguig was awarded to the contractor earlier embroiled in the allegedly overpriced construction of the P2.3-billion Makati City Hall Building II.
“In fact, after the notice of award was issued, I took time to warn the contractor in the presence of some DPWH officials against giving SOP’s (bribe) to anyone and in whatever form, particularly on the construction of the new Senate building,” Lacson also said.
Questioning the contractor for the Senate’s new building was the President’s latest attempt to “find what’s wrong” with senators amid the chamber’s investigation of alleged irregularities in the awarding of multi-billion pandemic response supply contracts to Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp.
The Senate, particularly its Blue Ribbon Committee chairman, Sen. Richard Gordon, have since been the subject of the president’s tirades in his public addresses.
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