Artes: Not the first time MMDA got funds from other agencies
MANILA, Philippines — It was not the first time Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) received funds from other agencies without approval from Congress, MMDA chair Romando Artes said on Thursday.
Artes was disputing Northern Samar 1st District Rep. Paul Daza’s allegations that the Department of Information and Communications Technology’s (DICT) transfer of P1.1 billion from its P12 billion fund for the free public Wi-Fi program was “suspicious” as it was done without congressional consent.
“Ang masasabi ko lamang po hindi po ito ang kaunaunahang pagkakataon na naka-receive kami ng download. May previously completed projects po tayo na ang pondo ay nanggaling sa ibang ahensiya, una na po ‘yung sa bus carousel ang pondo po niyan ay nanggaling sa DOTr (Department of Transportation),” he said.
(All I can say is that this is not the first time we have received a download. We have previously completed projects whose funds came from other agencies. The first was the bus carousel, whose funds came from the DOTr.)
Artes also cited MMDA projects in the Manila Bay Cleanup, specifically the sewage treatment plants, and then asserted that neither DICT nor the MMDA needs congressional approval for transferring funds since it only means a change in the implementing agency and not a change of program.
“Ang pagt-transfer po ay normal na ginagawa among agencies dahil kami po ay nagtutulungan sa pagi-implement ng projects ng bawat isa,” he maintained.
(Our agencies normally do the transfer because we work together to implement each other’s projects.)
“Wala pong illigal o suspicious dito sa transfer na ito dahil hindi lang naman ito tinransfer para i-park lang ang pera kundi para iimplement ang isang napakagandang proyekto,” he added.
(There is nothing illegal or suspicious about this transfer because it was not just transferred to park the money but to implement a very good project.)
Meanwhile, Artes also addressed the questions posed by Daza regarding the free Wi-Fi project having a lone bidder – a joint venture between A-WIN and NET PACIFIC, Inc. The bidding for NCR Fiber Optic Backbone Development project was held on November 8.
“Nasabi po ni Daza na highly suspiscious dahil isa lang nag-bid. Marami pong nag-inquire may mga letters po kami na-receive na nagtatanong o nagka-clarify para sa terms of reference pero hindi po sila nag-participate. Hindi ko po alam kung ano ang dahilan,” he said.
(Daza said it is highly suspicious because only one submitted a bid. So many inquired, and we received letters asking or clarifying the terms of preference, but they did not participate. I don’t know what’s the reason.)
He added that the MMDA also has no control over how many bidders will participate in procuring the free Wi-Fi program.
“At hindi naman pinagbabawal under Procurement Law, na ‘pag isa lang ang nag-bid hindi na po itutuloy,” Artes noted.
(The Procurement Law does not prohibit one bidder; if only one bids, the bidding should be stopped.)
The newly-appointed MMDA head also did not think that the reputation of A-WIN should be a ground for its disqualification. According to Daza, A-WIN was involved in a mishap in Edsa where a pipe was accidentally hit and leaked.
“Hindi po kino-consider ‘yan dahil hindi naman kasama sa technical evaluation ‘yan. Although siguro hindi naman reason enough ‘yung nakatama ka ng tubo para ma-disqualify ‘yung bidder, wala po sa batas ‘yan,” Artes said.
(That is not considered because it is not included in the technical evaluation. Although maybe hitting a pipe is not reason enough to disqualify the bidder, it is not in the law.)
Further, Artes said he would not return the fund it received from DICT as it would mean “turning his back” from his mandate to deliver services in Metro Manila.
“Hindi ko po gagawin ‘yan on the basis of a mere suspicion na may mali sa pag-download ng pondo from DICT to MMDA. Kami naman pong ahensya maayos naman po kami mag-implement ng project,” he said.
(I will not do that based on a mere suspicion that there is something wrong with downloading funds from DICT to MMDA. We are an agency that implements a project properly.)
He likewise clarified that since the period of evaluation on the submissions of the lone bidder is still ongoing, the MMDA has yet to touch the transferred funds from DICT.
“Hindi pa dahil hindi pa na-a-award ito, so intact pa rin (Not yet because it has not been awarded, so the funds are still intact),” he said.
So is the MMDA prepared to be scrutinized by Congress? Artes said yes.
“Wala naman po tayong itinatago dito (We are not hiding anything here). So we’re open to scrutiny and we’re ready to face any inquiry regarding this matter,” he said.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.