Sangil: Corruption in public bidding

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I RECALL some years ago, President Rodrigo Duterte said that there were many people involved in anomalous biddings of government projects. And last week, he decried again the grave corruption in the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). (Anak ng baka naman. Inabswelto naman agad si Secretary Mark Villar). Duterte said he still trust Villar. Say that again please? Where's accountability here? And Villar said he has been dealing the corruption in his department. Mr. Secretary you have been in office for more than four years now. How long will it take you? Joining in the corruption issue in the Duterte government, Senator Panfilo "Ping" Lacson said "the DPWH is responsible for the padding of projects with legislators manipulating the projects in connivance with some officials in the agency in exchange for kickbacks." That's very true. It's an open secret.

Let's explain further. Formal bidding happens in the agency office, say for example at a district office of Department of Public and Highways, National Irrigation Agency, Department of Education etc. etc. In most cases, the "sindikato" already conducted their own "bidding" and the winning bidder is already pinpointed and including the price of the winning bid. The arrangement is for the pre-arranged winner to set aside three percent of the total package cost to be equitably distributed among the designated participants. "Pamalengke" is their term for it.

Let's be graphic for easier understanding how things were done and still being done with impunity despite repeated expose, warnings and even congressional investigations.

The procurement law mandates that all government projects are to be subjected to competitive bidding, and that biddings of projects are to be advertised on newspapers of general circulation and on the PHILGEP, the government website. Having done that, the concerned agency will start selling bid documents, and the amount will depend on the project cost. Now the participants will be known and who will be participating in the bidding. The work starts for the "sindikato" here.

The pinpointed winning bidder has his money ready for distribution to the bidding participants. The three percent will now be distributed equitably and everybody will be happy on their way to the bank. They got their "pamalengke," but not yet the people from the regional and district offices whose sticky fingers must be greased, or else...To the sponsor, a senator or a congressional member, it is already pre- determined. (Kung 10% lang mabait, kung 20 or 30% matakaw, kung hindi pa naman nag-uumpisa ang proyekto humihingi ng advance, mandurugas).

When you come to think of it why most government infrastructure projects are substandard, it is because every project is marked with corruption. In that rigged bidding, the congressman in the district has to be given his demanded share. That's only the first instance. There is a long list of people who will assert what's due them based on what's euphemistically called SOP (standard operating procedure). Maybe 10 or 15% for congressman, 5 or 10% on the head of the agency, small percentages on every office like quality control, resident auditor, cashier and few others who will be given balato. You minus the VAT of 12% and the allowable 10% contractor's profit, you have now ladies and gentlemen how much went into that road project. Two years later you will see cracks and it needs repair. Road maintenance is another source of corruption. It's a never ending cycle.


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