SOME officials had hoped to live stream the bidding process in Cebu City in the spirit of “transparency and accountability.” But they didn’t take into account the existing laws that would be broken if the proposal was passed, according to the mayor.
Mayor Michael Rama, in a letter sent to the council dated Sept. 5, 2023, vetoed the measure authored by Councilor Rey Gealon, which members of the City Council approved last Aug. 16.
Called “Live Streaming of the Bidding Process of the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) of the City of Cebu,” it stipulated that the whole bidding process – the pre-procurement conference, the pre-bid conference, and the opening of bids – would be live streamed, from start to finish, on the City’s social media platforms such as YouTube and Facebook and on its official website.
Rama said the measure violates the Data Privacy Act of 2012, supersedes the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Government Procurement Reform Act, and compromises the general welfare clause provided under the Local Government Code.
He assured that BAC officials comply with the IRR of the Government Procurement Reform Act by inviting representatives from the Commission on Audit and two observers from nongovernment organizations, who are not included in the voting, during the bidding process.
Gealon, in a message to SunStar Cebu on Friday, Sept. 15, said Rama’s veto “killed” the ordinance’s intention for transparency and accountability.
Gealon said he anchored his measure on the general welfare clause, the same clause the mayor used to reject the ordinance.
“I strongly believe that the ‘general welfare clause’ invoked by the good mayor to defeat the ordinance is the same clause I relied upon as author to uphold the primordial right of the people to know how the bidding process is undertaken towards the utilization of public funds,” the councilor said.
“Having merely noted the mayor’s veto during the regular session, this ordinance, whose noble intention is the pursuit of transparency and accountability, is killed,” he added.
Rama said the ordinance would have ended up violating the bidders’ right to privacy, as their “personal and sensitive pieces of information” embedded in their technical, financial, and other related documents would be read out loud during the opening of their bids.
He said these individuals have yet to enter into any contract with the City Government.
“Thus, the subject ordinance clearly runs counter and anathema to the explicit provisions as well as the spirit, intent, and purposes of the Data Privacy Act of 2012. Consequently, it is also prejudicial to the welfare of the bidders,” he said.
He said the ordinance cannot provide something in contravention with or not provided for under the law which seeks to implement it, in this case, the Government Procurement Reform Act.
He said that its IRR do not categorically require live streaming the public bidding process of BAC, whether for goods, infrastructure projects, and consulting services.
As the local chief executive, Rama said he is bound to promote general welfare, and live streaming the bidding process will “unnecessarily put at risk” the interest, safety, and security of the bidders.
The vetoed ordinance covers all modes of procurement recognized under the Government Procurement Reform Act, including emergency procurement and other alternative modes.
It also covers the procurement of goods, infrastructure projects, and even consulting services.
The ordinance was supposed to take effect immediately after its approval and publication in a newspaper of general circulation.