P37 million Magsaysay retrofitting project assailed

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BAGUIO CITY  – Seven officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways – Baguio City District Engineering Office (DPWH-BCDEO) are now facing charges of grave abuse of authority, conduct unbecoming of an officer, violation of Republic Act (RA) 9184 or the Government Procurement Law, RA 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and dereliction of duty before the Office of the Ombudsman on the alleged questionable implementation of a P37 million retrofitting project of the Magsaysay flyover.

In his 5-page affidavit complaint, Salvador Liked, Secretary-General of the Cordillera chapter of the Citizens Crime Watch (CCW-CAR), named the respondents in the case as DPWH-BCDEO district engineer Rene F. Zarate, Assistant District Engineer Glen B. Reyes, planning and design division chief Engr. Cesario Rillera, Engr. Gil Noque, Engr. Nora delos Santos, Engr. Alfredo Bannagao, jr., and other still unidentified personalities.

The complainant alleged that on April 11, 2018, the DPWH-BCDEO Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) bidded out a project bridge program – retrofitting and strengthening of permanent bridges, Magsaysay west flyover in Baguio city with an approved budget of P37.9 million.

He said that amazingly, there was only a lone bidder for the project, namely, North Tech Builders and Construction Supply with a bid of P36.7 million with a variation of 3 percent which obviously reflects that the same was not actually a competitive bidding.

Obviously, the complainant claimed that the difference between the approved budget cap and the bid of North Tech Builders and Construction Supply is more or less P1.1 million which is considered by many as alleged simulated or fixed.

“In an honest public bidding, the project could have generated the participation of numerous local contractors to bid for the same,” the complaint stated.

He narrated that the contract for the project was signed between the parties on May 11, 2018 and that the 15 percent mobilization was processed and eventually released on May 25, 2018, 14 days from the signing of the contract for the implementation of the project.

He branded the same as the fastest processing and payment of the 15 percent mobilization for a project in the history of the DPWH-BCDEO and other DPWH district offices in the region considering that without any units of equipment in place but only personnel and workers, North Tech Builders and Construction Supply was the most blessed contractor of the said office considering that it was immediately released the required mobilization funds.

Based on the gathered pieces of evidence, the complaint revealed that the voucher for the 15 percent mobilization fund amounting to P5.5 million was processed on May 25, 2018 as reflected on the date and the check for the same was released on the same day.

The complaint alleged that a road project worth P36.7 million to retrofit or strengthen the Magsaysay flyover never needed retrofitting equipments in place when the contractor processed its mobilization funds considering that the contractor allegedly plastered the beams of the flyover, placed a little design and painted it with a glossy paint which was worthP36.7 million.

He raised question on how could the simple plastering of the beams, placing f a little design and painting the same be classified as retrofitting and strengthening of the flyover considering that it was totally different from what was done in the retrofitting of other major bridges in the different parts of the region.

He cited as an example the retrofitting of the Samoki bridge in Bontoc, Mountain Province wherein 3 pairs of posts were virtually wrapped around with steel bars like screen, then covered with steel flat sheets that served as a round form before it was poured with concrete which contributed in strengthening the pairs of posts from the rolling stones of the Chico river during the onslaught of weather disturbances.

Liked prayed for the issuance of a subpoena for all the documents of the project to prevent the same from being played upon by those involved officials and employees so that investigators will be able to appreciate his allegations and comparison of the project to similar retrofitting projects in other parts of the region.

Delos Santos explained that the public department established the road and bridge management systems wherein conditions of the said infrastructures are inputted for the systems to analyse the same.

She added that it is also the systems that ascertain the defects of the roads and bridges and recommend the appropriate diagnosis for the defects, thus, it was the agency’s bridge management system that uncovered the defect of the Magsaysay flyover ad recommended the state-of-the-art technology that will be used for its retrofitting and strengthening.

The DPWH-BCDEO official claimed that what will be recommended by the system in terms of the technology that will be used and the extent of damage as well as the scope will be the one that will be bidded out by the BAC pursuant to the provisions of Republic Act (RA) 9184 or the Government Procurement Act, thus, the use of carbon fiber and epoxy resin was the one that was used in the retrofitting of the Magsaysay flyover.

On the issue of the lone bidder that participated in the public bidding for the project, delos Santos pointed out that the contractor that won the bid for the project was also pre-qualified by the agency’s existing system that contains the qualification of the contractors to implement such kind of projects.

She asserted that the bidding of the project passed through the stringent requirements of existing laws, rules and regulations that were crafted for the purpose and that the contractor has been qualified to implement the said project based on the existing system.

By HENT

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