Enraged market vendors filed graft charges against Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, Vice Mayor Isko Moreno and several others at the Office of the Ombudsman on Wednesday.
Also charged were members of the city council and other officials of the city government as well as the board members of the private contractor Marketlife Management and Leasing Corporation Inc. (MMLC). Among those included in the complaint are the secretary to the mayor and heads of the city legal office, city planning and development office, city treasurer and city engineer.
Juliet Peredo, president of D’ Manila Federation of Public Market Vendors Association Inc. (MFPMVA), questioned the joint venture entered into by the city government and MMLCI to redevelop the Quinta Market in Quiapo district. The market was demolished recently to give way to its renovation that will cost P250 million.
Aside from graft, the vendors accused Estrada and the other respondents of violating the Government Procurement Reform Act or R. A. 9184 and R.A. 6957 or Act Authorizing the Financing, Construction, Operation, and Maintenance of Infrastructure Projects.
The federation, which is duly registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission, is composed of 17 public markets.
The group said MMLC has no experience in renovation and “does not have the ability and financial base to undertake the project.”
Peredo said MMLC has only a paid up capital of P3.1 million and P85 million working capital.
“MMLC has no track record at all to operate and manage Quinta Market for 25 years. Certainly, the city government of Manila will be placed at a very disadvantage position,” the complainants said.
“Not to be glossed over is the manner by which the award was conducted. Under Ordinance 8346, since the procurement procedure was purportedly an “unsolicited proposal” given through a Swiss Challenge, however, no published notices inviting third parties were made effectively conveying that MMLC’s proposal can still be matched or exceeded by any interested parties. Very clearly, the procurement process adopted betrays transparency and competitiveness which R.A. 9184 seeks to invoke,” they added.