‘Restrictive’ bidding for fire trucks bared
MANILA, Philippines — Makabayan lawmakers are pushing a probe of the Bureau of Fire Protection’s (BFP) “restrictive and questionable” procurement process that limited purchases of fire trucks to just two brands.
The three-member bloc has filed House Joint Resolution No. 15 pressing the House panel on good government and public accountability to conduct an inquiry in aid of legislation on the issue.
The measure claimed that the BFP “effectively tailor-fit” the procurement process for favored supplies by imposing limitations on qualified bidders and technical specifications for fire trucks.
“These restrictive BFP bidding processes have possibly given undue advantages to favored suppliers and possibly prejudiced, not only other competent suppliers but also the public and the government in general,” the resolution read.
‘Subject to collusion’
It urged Congress to be vigilant in looking into the acts and practices of government agencies, officials, and employees that may “possibly damage and prejudice the public in general.”
“Clearly, when the bidding process is subject to collusion by the procuring entities and some parties, genuine free and open competition as mandated by law is impossible. The resulting corrupting effect is gravely disadvantageous to the government, which is now already saddled with huge budget deficits and a heavy debt burden,” the measure added.
The Makabayan bloc cited records and documents, which showed that “the BFP restrictive procurement process practically gives undue advantage since 2018 to only two joint venture entities.”
These are JROG Marketing, which carries the Isuzu brand of engine, cab, and chassis, and F. Cura Industries, which carries the Hino brand.
The measure added that no fire truck manufacturer in the Philippines can yet comply with the BFP’s requirements and technical specifications.
Other brands excluded
In addition, qualified bidders were limited to those who have been engaged in the manufacture or assembly of fire trucks or rescue truck vehicles for at least 15 years.
Thus, bidders were limited only to manufacturers and assemblers of fire trucks, excluding those that can only directly sell or supply fire trucks.
“From the foregoing, it is clear that with the restrictions made by the BFP, only Isuzu and Hino brands of engine, cab and chassis can possibly be offered for procurement,” the measure said.
It added that the limitation on qualified bidders will end up “excluding in the process other quality brands that may possibly even be advantageous to the government and not as expensive as the favored ones, if only a genuine competitive process is done.”
In a statement, House deputy minority leader Rep. France Castro pointed out that the BFP should be transparent in its bidding process by publicizing bidding documents in the course of the probe.
In 2021, then-President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act No. 11589, or the BFP Modernization Act, which allowed the agency to upgrade its firefighting capability.
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