A national coalition of consumer groups on Sunday urged President Benigno Aquino 3rd to look into the anomalous bidding undertaken by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) in relation to the LRT-MRT common ticketing project. The coalition is worried that the anomaly created by the project will affect confidence of investors who are bidding for other government public-private partnerships (PPP).
In a press briefing in Quezon City, Atty. Oliver San Antonio told reporters that the DOTC should have exercised sound discretion and background checks against AF consortium.
Based on papers submitted and admitted publicly by AF consortium, two of its major companies, Ayala Group and the Metro Pacific Investment Corp. (MPIC) have huge financial interests in the MRT 3.
MPIC, San Antonio said, even filed an arbitration case against the government for the procurement of China-made trains before the Singapore International Arbitration Court (SIAC). The case is now being heard by the Singaporean tribunal.
Based on bidding rules established by the Bids and Awards Committee of the DOTC, any bidder who has a pending case against the government and maintains a substantial interest in LRT 1, LRT 2 and MRT 3 is automatically disqualified
MPIC and Ayala both have substantial interests in MRT 3. MPIC owns 47 percent of AF consortium.
San Antonio is worried about the possible repercussions of this project to the perception of the international community on bidding of PPP projects under the Aquino administration.
“It is clear from the bidding rules that AF consortium should have been disqualified because one of its companies, MPIC, has a major case filed before an international tribunal against the Aquino administration. The rules are very clear—no bidder with a pending case before any tribunal or court against government will be allowed to bid,” San Antonio said.
San Antonio urged the DOTC to declare a failed bidding due to the omission it committed in the project. The UP-educated lawyer said the DOTC cannot give the go-signal to AF consortium without risk of being accused of graft and corruption.
“ The DOTC should declare a failed bidding. It must admit to the public that it failed to check the action made by MPIC against the government. MPIC is a major stockholder of AF consortium, and by this, the DOTC should have automatically disqualified this bidder.”
San Antonio and the rest of the NCFC are fighting for the rescission of the award given by the DOTC to AF consortium. The group strongly fears that the offer made by the AF consortium is disadvantageous to the public.
AF consortium offers only to pay P279 million to the government in exchange for managing the P3.2-billion project. Other bidders agreed on paying P1 billion upfront payment to the government as concession fee. According to financial analysts, AF consortium stands to gain at least P2 billion from the project since the consortium will pay the remaining P800 million in staggered payments within a period of 10 years.
San Antonio says that if DOTC allows AF consortium to manage the project, there will be an anomalous arrangement where there would only be one operator of both the trains and the payment system. There will be no one to check and balance both operations, to the detriment of the commuting public.