THE P3.8 billion motor vehicle license plates contract awarded by the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) to a Dutch firm should be scrapped because the deal is flawed from the beginning, a businessman told the Senate on Thursday.
Edward Fereira, a private bidder, said the DOTC violated the law when it bidded out the contract in 2013 even if there was no budget to cover the project.
The Senate public service sub-committee on transportation looked into the issue on Thursday.
Fereira told the committee that the DOTC pushed through with the bidding even if Congress only approved P187 million for the project.
Fereira said the DOTC planned to augment the paltry budget with the savings of the DOTC and the Land Transportation Office (LTO) for 2014 or funds from the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
“However, the DAP issue broke out, preventing the DOTC from supplementing the P187 million budget for the license plate project using the savings,” Fereira said.
The DOTC awarded the contract to J. Knieriem BV Goes (JKG) in 2014.
Fereira maintained that the contract is flawed because aside from having no available funding, it also does not have the multi-year obligational authority from the Department of Budget and Management as well as the approval of the National Economic and Development Authority.
Sen. Ralph Recto also found the contract questionable.
“It would appear to me that they did this project without appropriation, they corrected it in 2014 by putting the appropriation and signed the contract in 2014 even if they gave the notice of award in 2013,” he noted.
But according to Cecilia Camon, Direct IV of the Commission on Audit (COA), bidding out a contract even without an approved appropriation is allowed under the government procurement Board provided that the contract will not be awarded.
Recto, however, said this practice would encourage government agencies without appropriation to bid out projects claiming there is appropriation.
He also questioned the decision of the LTO to replace the license plates of all motor vehicles. The LTO has started the issuing new plates for motor vehicles and motorcycles charging P450 and P120 per set of plates respectively.
Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito, the chairman of the sub-committee, the panel will tackle the supposed irregularities in the next hearing.
Ejercito filed Senate Resolution No. 1239 on March 16, 2015 to investigate the alleged irregularities in the bidding process for the procurement of license plates. “There are numerous allegations of irregularities surrounding the bidding process. We cannot just be silent about this, especially with the amount involved and the inconvenience it is causing the public because of delayed deliveries. These are the reasons why I asked to refer the matter to a subcommittee,” Ejercito said.
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and local government units (LGUs) are not inclined to apprehend motorists who violate the “No Plate, No Travel” policy of the LTO.
MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said the agency and the 17 LGUs in the metropolis do not support the LTO policy for being “ill-timed.”
The MMDA chief earlier said the policy may be unconstitutional it deprives an individual of the right to use his own property without due process of law.
Tolentino said vehicle owners should not be faulted if their vehicles are still without license plates.