• Escudero sees flaws in license plate deal


    OFFICIALS of the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) and the Land Transportation Office (LTO) face intense “grilling” from the Senate Finance Committee which will investigate controversies hounding the P3.85 billion Motor Vehicle License Plates Standardization Program (MVLPSP) next month.

    Senator Francis Escudero, chairman of the Senate panel, said based on the information he got from the Senate Legislative Budget Research and Monitoring Office (LBRMO), there are “red flags” in the MVLPSP bidding.

    The LBRMO is the technical arm of the Senate finance committee.

    The bidding for the delivery of LTO license plates in the amount of P3.85 billion was conducted on May 6 and 7, 2013. However, only P187,293,000 was appropriated for the Motor Vehicle Plate Making Project.

    Escudero said the DOTC can not claim that it sourced the funding for the MVLPSP from the 2014 GAA because the 2014 national budget has not been approved yet when the bidding was conducted.

    “The bidding was done in May 2013, so the 2014 budget has not been approved hence, cannot be a source of fund,” the senator said.

    Based on the copy of the “Certificate as to the Availability of Funds for other contracts or their equivalent” submitted by the LTO to the Commission on Audit (COA), the LTO claimed that funds to cover the proposed supply and delivery of motor vehicle license plates have been duly appropriated in the 2014 GAA which was approved on December 27, 2013.

    The document, dated February 18, 2014 signed by Asuncion Manigas, LTO chief accountant, was referring to the item on the 2014 GAA amounting to P4,843,753,000 for the Motor Vehicle Registration and Driver’s Licensing Regulatory Services.

    But Escudero pointed out that the P4.843 billion on the 2014 GAA cannot be used to fund the MVLPSP because it is specifically for the Motor Vehicle Registration and Driver’s Licensing Regulatory Services.

    “Given these sets of facts, there could be red flags and I will definitely raise these during the budget deliberation,” Escudero said in an interview with The Manila Times.

    Leo Romero, counsel of bidder Marianing and Sons Development Corp., said the certificate of availability of funds submitted by the LTO clearly shows that there was no appropriation by law of the amount of P3.85 billion for the LTO license plates.

    He explained that the appropriation for the bidding for LTO license plates cannot be taken out from the P4.843 billion because bulk of the amount was specifically appropriated for Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE).

    He also cited court rulings on the cases involving the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and Philippine National Railways (PNR). Romero particularly pointed to the SC ruling that voided the contract awarded by the Comelec to the Photokina Marketing Corp. for the digitization of the fingerprints of the voters for lack of available funds.

    According to the SC, the winning bid of P6.58 billion exceeded the P1 billion appropriated by Congress for the project.

    The High Tribunal also made the same ruling on the case of PNR vs. Kanlaon Construction Enterprises, Co., Inc., wherein the tribunal voided three contracts for failure to comply with the requirements of the Administrative Code of 1987.

    Under the Administrative Code of 1987, there must be an appropriation law authorizing the expenditure.


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