THE joint venture that offered the lowest bid for the Light Rail Transit Line 2 (LRT-2) maintenance service contract on Monday said it is open to any investigation regarding allegations of irregularity in the bidding held on April 10.
Charles Mercado, spokesperson for Busan Transportation Corp. and its local partner, Edison Development Company (Busan-EDC), said charges being hurled against the joint venture and members of the Light Rail Transit Authority-Bids and Awards Committee (LRTA-BAC) “are farthest from the truth” and part of a demolition job aimed to discredit Busan-EDC.
The BUSAN-EDC, he said, is open to any investigation by concerned government agencies but any probe should focus on the “confidentiality clause” in the bidding rules that prohibits all concerned parties, including the bidders and members of the BAC and Technical Working Group (TWG), from disclosing any information related to the bidding unless such disclosure is approved by the Department of Transportation and Communications.
“Our clients closely respected this rule. However, it is becoming apparent that some groups cannot and would not do so,” Mercado lamented, pointing out that the confidential aspects of the technical offer of the joint venture were being disclosed “liberally” to the public by the National Coalition of Filipino Consumers (NCFC).
The NCFC filed a graft complaint against the members of the LRTA-BAC at the Office of the Ombudsman last week. It alleged that the BAC and Secretariat members violated procurement laws when they re-opened the period for accepting bids after the bidding was closed. The group also claimed that the BAC accepted the bid submission of the BUSAN-EDC “despite clear and undisputed non-compliance with the packing and sealing instructions.”
The joint venture submitted a bid of P1,010,856,888 for the three-year maintenance service of LRT2, lower than the bid offered by the joint venture of APT/Global, CB&T and Miescorail, at P1,148,324,712.50. The approved budget for the contract (ABC) is P1,154,811,561.83.
“Are my clients and the BAC now being harassed because the offer frustrated some quarters’ expectations and belief that the deal was ‘in the bag’ for them?” Mercado asked.
He said that while his client welcomes the “vigilance” shown by NCFC in safeguarding public interest, he asserted that the group may not have all the facts necessary to make a fair and unbiased judgment.
Mercado said the claim that the BAC “reopened” the bidding is wrong, noting that the bidding schedule set the opening of bids at 10 a.m. on April 10, not one hour earlier as claimed by some of those present.
As for the rule on the sealing and marking, he explained that bid rule 20.5 only states that the “procuring entity (LRT-2) will assume no responsibility for the misplacement or premature opening of the bid” should a bidder fail to properly seal or mark his tender before it is submitted to the BAC and it does not speak of any violation.
“In fine, the rule only says that the risk and fault rests on the bidder and not on the BAC. Nevertheless, our clients complied with all the rules for the bidding,” Mercado stressed.
He branded as “ridiculous” the accusation that the bidding was rigged as part of a “fund-raising” campaign for the 2016 elections by the administration party.