A former lawmaker has asked the Supreme Court to nullify the “identical” P3-billion supply contracts entered into by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) with a foreign supplier involving the acquisition of 156 units of firetrucks.
In his 52-page petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus with prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) and a writ of injunction, former party-list Rep. Jonathan Dela Cruz said the contracts under the department’s “fire protection capability program” violated the constitution.
Dela Cruz was referring to the deal entered into by the DILG and an Austrian corporation Rosenbauer international for delivery of 76 units of Rosenbauer TLF 4000 fire trucks.
The first contract was executed on December 14, 2011 when the department was headed by Jesse Robredo.
In July 2015, a similar contract was entered into between the DILG represented by then Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento and Rosenbauer International, also for the delivery of the same number of fire trucks for P1.49 billion.
The National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), which is also a respondent in the case, in its May 19, 2015 meeting, confirmed the Investment Coordination Committee (ICC) approval of the project.
The supply contracts were both financed by a loan extended by the government of Austria by way of Credit Facility Agreements entered into between the Department of Finance and UniCredit Bank Austria AG.
The loans were to be paid in 17 years.
But De la Cruz said both contracts were not covered by an appropriation from Congress.
He added that the supply contract did not undergo any public bidding.
“The absence of any of the three – an appropriation law, a certificate of appropriation and fund availability, and public bidding – renders the supply contracts void from the beginning,” he said in his petition.
“The clear purpose of these requirements is to insure that government contracts are never signed unless supported by the corresponding appropriation law and fund availability,” he explained.
Named respondents in the case were former executive secretary Paquito Ochoa, Jr., former Finance secretary Cesar Purisima, former Budget secretary Florencio B. Abad, Roberto Tan (national treasurer), Emmanuel Esguerra in his capacity as Secretary General of NEDA, Michael Aguinaldo, Chairman of the Commission on Audit, Chief Supt. Rodrigo Abrazaldo, Officer In Charge of the Bureau of Fore Protections (BFP) and Sarmiento.
The two controversial supply contracts were signed and implemented during the tenures of Robredo, Sarmiento and Manuel Roxas 2nd.