A PRIVATE engineering and architectural firm has clarified that what it levied as pro bono was only one of four phases of its services for the construction of the Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC).
In an official statement sent to local newspapers last Tuesday night, Espina, Perez-Espina & Associates pointed out that of their total P42.5 million architect’s fee, only the schematic design phase amounting to P8.5 million was marked without charge.
For its first billing sent to the City Government last June 6, the firm asked for payment for the second and third phases of its services amounting to P33.3 million, including 12 percent VAT.
Archt. Omar Maxwell Espina, the firm’s principal architect, said they were prepared to do the schematic phase pro bono based on their initial understanding on their engagement with the City during the time of former mayor Michael Rama.
He said that a regular architectural service is composed of four phases: the schematic design, design development, contract document, and construction supervision.
The first two phases are when the architect does most of the brainstorming and planning. The contract document phase, which is also the most expensive stage, requires the engagement of structural, electrical, mechanical, sanitary and electronic engineers.
“We had surmised that since the City has a fully staffed Engineering Department, they would be well up to the task of doing complete construction document and supervision phases of the project,” he said.
But since the City Engineer’s Office has alleged that they do not have enough personnel to work on the contract document phase, Espina said that Rama requested the firm to help out.
Espina said it was at this point that the firm raised its concern regarding the considerable expense in producing the detailed architectural and engineering drawings and other documents on the project.
He pointed out that they were fully aware of the requirements of Republic Act 9184, or the Government Procurement Reform Act.
Section 10 of RA 9184 provides that all government procurement for infrastructure projects, goods and consulting services shall be done through competitive public bidding, except as provided under the alternative modes of procurement.
“It is not as if we stumbled into this situation blindly. Mayor Rama’s solution was to appropriate the funds for our fees from pledges from private entities that he had gathered. The mayor’s word was good enough for us to proceed; we had no reason to doubt his intentions then, and we do not doubt it now. We think that the mayor was doing his best to alleviate the situation at the hospital,” Espina said.
The City Legal Office, however, has said that the City Government has no basis to pay the firm, unless it can produce the notice of award signed by the city mayor and the resolution on the procurement of services from the bids and awards committee as required by law.
The same opinion has been echoed by Councilor Mary Ann delos Santos, deputy mayor for CCMC, Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella and Mayor Tomas Osmeña. Osmeña alleged that the procurement of consulting services did not undergo proper selection process.
Sought for comment, Rama told SunStar Cebu that if he were in office, the issue would have been settled since the firm is composed of known professionals in the field.
“I’m not getting my fingers on it since I’m no longer in public office, but the CCMC is a people’s hospital. Let the people who are willing to help do so. If I were mayor, which unfortunately I am not, that would not have been a problem. What matters is that it is for a good cause,” he said. (RTF)