MIRIAM RETURNS TO WORK, WALKS OUT OF CA HEARING

SEPT 10 --In the midst of battling lung cancer, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago returned to work
yeste
rday, but later walked out of a committee hearing she was presiding over after an argument with a colleague over Senate rules on quorum. Triggering Santiago’s outburst was Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas’ questioning of the quorum during the Commission on Appointment (CA)’s foreign relations committee deliberation on the nomination of 48 foreign service officers. “You are questioning my authority. I walk out of this meeting,” Santiago said as she tossed away the documents she was reading. Before her verbal tussle with Fariñas, an irate Santiago also ordered a TV crewmember out of the room, allegedly for causing distraction in the chamber.

Fariñas reminded Santiago that a majority of the members of a CA committee must be present to satisfy the requirements of a quorum. “Kailangan natin ng quorum e (We need a quorum),” Fariñas insisted. Santiago then pointed to the direction of the door and said: “Eh dumarating na sila e. Maya-maya may quorum na (They’re coming. In a little while, there will be a quorum),” she said. “But there is none yet. Without quorum, Ma’am, we cannot proceed,” Fariñas replied. “You have no power to tell me what my quorum is,” Santiago said. “I am the quorum.” Santiago argued that in the 10 years that she has been chairperson of the committee, it has always been the practice that the presence of the chairperson alone is enough to constitute a quorum and that nobody has ever questioned this. When she asked committee members to show their support for her position by raising their hands, no one did, leaving her more enraged. *READ MORE...

ALSO: Santiago eyes Duterte, Poe as possible running mate for 2016 

SEPT 10 --VIDEO SCREENGRAB: INSET--DAVAO MAYOR DUTERTE --Senator Miriam Defensor-
Santiag
o is considering several personalities as possible running mate, including Davao
City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, should she decide to run for president in 2016. “I should be president,” Santiago said during a press conference at the Senate on Wednesday. Asked who she wanted to be her running mate, the senator said: “I would love to run with Duterte.” The senator also mentioned the names of former presidential wannabe Gilbert Teodoro and Senator Grace Poe as a possible running mate. “Maybe it’s Miriam and Grace,” Santiago said. She, however, noted the combination of their names sounded like a restaurant and “charming.” Originally posted at 12:05 pm | September 10, 2014 THIS IS THE FULL REPORT.

ALSO earlier report: ‘I’ve licked cancer, I may run for president’ – Santiago  

AUGUST 27 --Just barely two months before announcing she had Stage 4 lung cancer, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago said she has now overcome it and is now considering running for president in 2016. “I have licked cancer, and I’m actually thinking of several career options. By 2016, I will be disqualified by law to seek another term as senator,” Santiago said in a statement on Wednesday. ”By 2016 I will be disqualified by law to seek another term as senator,” she said. Last July 2, the senator called a press conference to announce that she was suffering from Stage 4 lung cancer.

After her oncologists issued a diagnosis on lung cancer, Santiago said she was placed on medication called Tarceva (aka Erlotinib) for six weeks, at only one table a day. Last August 12, she said, St. Luke’s Medical Center in Bonifacio Global City issued a report on a PET/CT Scan stating that the tumor in her “left lung has regressed,” meaning that it has become smaller. “The latest lab test shows that the cancer cells are waving a white flag. During this time, I only have to work on my stamina . During the six-week period of treatment, I was even able to work on the 2014 editions of some 10 law books which are scheduled for release by the end of the year,” she said. “I’m not going to be coy. Society leaders have urged me to seek the presidency. I can rise to the occasion, although I was following the other sign posts on the road to recovery,” said the senator. *READ MORE...

ALSO: House launches probe on Drilon Iloilo Center bldg pet project  

SEPT 9 --PHOTO: The P700-million Iloilo Convention Center (ICC) which is Senate President Franklin Drilon’s pet project as an offshoot of the Senate probe on the allegedly overpriced Makati City Parking Lot building. Both projects were undertaken by government contractor Hilmarc’s Cons-truction Corp. (HCC).  --The House is seeking an investigation into the P700-million Iloilo Convention Center (ICC) which is Senate President Franklin Drilon’s pet project as an offshoot of the Senate probe on the allegedly overpriced Makati City Parking Lot building. Both projects were undertaken by government contractor Hilmarc’s Cons-truction Corp. (HCC).

The HCC which is also under investigation by the Senate panel for alleged overprice in the Makati contract has found itself in hot water with the House likely looking into all deals it entered with the government. A House member said Drilon’s project is more expensive than the world-famous Bird’s Nest Stadium where the 2008 Summer Olympics was held. Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon told reports said the ICC was only one of several allegedly overpriced government infrastructure projects of HCC. Ridon said he has officially sought a congressional investigation on contracts HCC had with the government through the filing of House Resolution 1466.

HR 1466 calls on the House committee on public works and highways to “conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the possible cases of corruption and overpricing involving government infrastructure projects contracted with Hilmarc’s Construction Corp. (HCC) by local and national government officials to determine and exact accountability.” HCC is the contractor in the controversial Makati parking building, which is now being investigated by a sub-panel of the Senate blue ribbon committee. Ridon’s demand for a probe on all government contracts entered into by HCC was shared by United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) secretary general, Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco, saying that if House counterparts in the Senate are sincere in their quest for the truth regarding their probe on the alleged overpricing of the Makati City Hall 2 Building, then it should include all other government contracts entered into by Hillmarc’s, including the Iloilo project funded mainly through Drilon’s pork and the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). *READ MORE...

ALSO: Bidding for Iloilo Convention Center possibly rigged  

SEPT 9 --Following his revelation that the Iloilo Convention Center (ICC) is possibly overpriced
and can even be more expensive – on a per square meter valuation – than China’s Bird’s Nest Stadium, Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon said Tuesday that the P479.8-million contract for construction of Phase I of the ICC is also possibly rigged.
Ridon noted that in the contract entered by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) with Hilmarc’s Construction Corporation (HCC), it is stated that the project has been undertaken under “negotiated procurement.”  “In the upcoming congressional investigation, we need to know whether the bidding of the contract was rigged, similar to the allegation in the Makati Parking Building project,” Ridon said.

The lawmaker revealed that in DPWH’s Resolution No. 09-2013 dated July 13, 2013, the department announced the “failure of competitive bidding and subsequent re-bidding” of the ICC Phase I contract. According to DPWH Resolution No. 09-2013, in the competitive bidding for the ICC, only two contractors submitted bids for the project, namely WT Construction, Inc. and R.D. Policarpio & Co., Inc. Meanwhile, six other contractors, namely A.M. Oreta & Co. Inc./IBC International Builders Corporation (JV), Frey-Fil Corporation, Young Builders Corporation, Tokwing Construction Corporation, J Bros Construction and Hilmarc’s Construction Corporation, submitted letter of non-participation for the project. In HCC’s letter of non-participation, the company explained that the reason for their non-participation was that they cannot meet the P482.5-million approved budget for the contract. In the same resolution, DPWH explained that R.D. Policarpio & Co., Inc. failed to meet the minimum equipment requirement for the ICC project.

Meanwhile, the financial documents of WT Construction, Inc. was declared failed for submitting a bid of P495,567,461.79 which is above the approved budget for the ICC. On December 2, 2013, DPWH released the contract declaring Hilmarc’s as the contractor for Phase I of the ICC. “It is disturbing to note that in the competitive bidding, Hilmarc’s did not even participate. But through negotiated procurement, it was able to clinch the project. It is highly possible that the contract is rigged,” Ridon said. Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act defines negotiated procurement as a method of procurement wherein “the procuring entity directly negotiates a contract with a technically, legally and financially capable supplier, contractor or consultant.”  Section 53 of RA 9184 states that there are only certain instances wherein a procuring government entity could resort to negotiated bidding, which includes cases of two failed biddings, emergency situations, take-over of rescinded contracts, and in cases when a subject contract is “adjacent or contiguous to an ongoing infrastructure project.” 

“Letting a multimillion project undergo negotiated procurement is suspicious since it opens the procurement process to possible rigging of contract,” Ridon said. Let investigation bring out facts The youth solon also refuted Sen. Franklin Drilon’s claim that the ICC’s cost per square meter is only P63,893. “We should remember that at present, it is just Phase I of the project that is ongoing. And that’s already P479.8 million. DPWH Region VI has already released varying estimates for the cost of the entire project, with the P700 million tag price seen as only the cost of the skeletal structure of the ICC. Some estimates for the whole project cost range from P830 million to even P1 billion. “Clearly, there is a need for an investigation on the matter to bring out the facts of the issue. We should remember that PDAF and DAP funds have been used for this particular project,” Ridon said. * READ MORE...

ALSO Manila Standard Opinin: At Noynoy’s pleasure 

By now, only the most pigheaded of supporters of this malingering administration will have failed to notice one of the most unique traits of the current ruler: no one ever gets fired from President Noynoy Aquino’s Cabinet.
It doesn’t matter how malevolent the anomaly or how world-beating the incompetence. None of the members of the President’s official family gets the boot because they enjoy the unwavering “trust and confidence” of the man on top. It’s unusual because all previous governments have practiced the sort of Cabinet bloodletting that is intended to head off public anger at the Malacañang occupant.

It shows that government is responsive and willing to sacrifice its own men on the altar of public opinion; it is also a regular admission that finding the right people for the right job is a continuous process and that while sometimes the incompetent and the corrupt may infiltrate the highest offices of government, they will eventually be discovered and shown the door. Recent events have given us no shortage of Cabinet-level people who should have been fired. But for some strange reason, they soldier on, declaring that they serve “at the pleasure of the President,” as if doing so excludes the pleasure of the people at whose sufferance this President even governs. Off the top of my head, I can name any number of people who should have been given pink slips by Aquino but who have remained firmly in their posts, like speed bumps of the daang matuwid.

There is Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman, who is once again embroiled in controversy regarding the misuse of aid to the victims of Typhoon Yolanda; the very durable Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, who loves going around with an aide protecting him with an umbrella as he surveys what his incompetence has wrought in the MRT; Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla, mastermind of the manufactured power crisis in the midst of the continuing regime of the region’s highest electricity prices; the folksy and the somewhat defanged (but still around) Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, who carries on despite the still-unexplained disappearance of billions in pork funds in his various agencies and the continuing skyrocketing of prices and tight supply of every agricultural product from rice to garlic; there’s every one of the spokesmen of Aquino, who have heaped so much criticism on their boss for misspeaking on so many occasions that they could fill an entire book on how not to perform the job of being mouthpieces of the President.

On the sub-Cabinet level, there are even more shameless officials who are widely believed to be incompetent, corrupt or both. There’s the whiny Metro Manila Development Authority Chairman Francis Tolentino, the architect of all traffic gridlock; the chief of the national police, General Alan Purisima, who went from building a Camp Crame mansion to doing nothing about crime, including organized crime perpetrated by his own uniformed people; there is Customs Commissioner John Sevilla, who can’t seem to understand that he is sabotaging the economy by hoarding all the shipments that arrive in the Port of Manila; and there’s that long-standing favorite of businessman and wage-earner alike, Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares, who keeps missing her own revenue targets as she goes after sari-sari store owners while letting all the tax-evading big fish go scot-free. *READ MORRE...


READ FULL REPORT HERE:

Miriam returns to work, walks out of CA hearing


Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago storms out of a Commission on Appointments hearing for the appointment of ambassadors and other foreign service officers at the Senate yesterday. VAL RODRIGUEZ

MANILA, SEPTEMBER 15, 2014 (PHILSTAR) By Marvin Sy - In the midst of battling lung cancer, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago returned to work yesterday, but later walked out of a committee hearing she was presiding over after an argument with a colleague over Senate rules on quorum.

Triggering Santiago’s outburst was Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas’ questioning of the quorum during the Commission on Appointment (CA)’s foreign relations committee deliberation on the nomination of 48 foreign service officers.

“You are questioning my authority. I walk out of this meeting,” Santiago said as she tossed away the documents she was reading.

Before her verbal tussle with Fariñas, an irate Santiago also ordered a TV crewmember out of the room, allegedly for causing distraction in the chamber.

Fariñas reminded Santiago that a majority of the members of a CA committee must be present to satisfy the requirements of a quorum.

“Kailangan natin ng quorum e (We need a quorum),” Fariñas insisted.

Santiago then pointed to the direction of the door and said: “Eh dumarating na sila e. Maya-maya may quorum na (They’re coming. In a little while, there will be a quorum),” she said.

“But there is none yet. Without quorum, Ma’am, we cannot proceed,” Fariñas replied.

“You have no power to tell me what my quorum is,” Santiago said. “I am the quorum.”

Santiago argued that in the 10 years that she has been chairperson of the committee, it has always been the practice that the presence of the chairperson alone is enough to constitute a quorum and that nobody has ever questioned this.

When she asked committee members to show their support for her position by raising their hands, no one did, leaving her more enraged.

* In an attempt to defuse the tension, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV called for a suspension of the hearing. But Santiago ignored him and banged the gavel to adjourn the hearing.

In a press briefing after the incident, Santiago said that the CA members should have questioned the procedure way back when she first started doing it.

“There is someone who is always Mr. Right. There is someone who is always Mr. Wrong. And there is always someone who is always never wrong. Yan ang problema natin dyan (That is our problem there),” said Santiago, who is still recovering from lung cancer.

She added that her anger was also triggered by the tardiness of her colleagues.

“I am only on partial recovery from lung cancer. I forced myself to come here, in order to avoid prejudice to some 50 nominees from the DFA. Now he wants all their majesties from the House of Representatives to come at their own sweet time and for all of us to wait at their pleasure. This is legislative abuse,” Santiago said.

“That would be a classic case of congressional arrogance,” she added.

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez told reporters that the committee members supported the position of Fariñas, who was merely following the rules of the CA.

He explained that the practice of Santiago to conduct hearings even without a quorum was only allowed in the past because nobody questioned it.

Trillanes, vice chairman of the committee, tried to convince Santiago to go back and finish the hearing or at least, allow him to preside so as not to waste the time of the diplomats who were still waiting in the committee room for their confirmation.

Trillanes later told the nominees their confirmation would have to be rescheduled as Santiago was in a very bad mood.

2016 beckons

Earlier, Santiago voiced her intention to run for president in 2016 if her health improves.

She said she is considering Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, former Rep. Gilbert Teodoro or Sen. Grace Poe as her running mate.

In a press briefing at the Senate yesterday, Santiago said that she is setting a personal deadline for full recovery at the end of the year.

She said the controversies besetting the administration have made her think of taking another crack at the presidency.

“I also think that I should be president because it is now so difficult to be president of this, I will describe this as feckless or irresponsible country,” Santiago said.

“Everybody in this country who is holding high office or is in high power is feckless, meaning to say irresponsible, they don’t have any feeling that my brother is my responsibility,” she added. – Christina Mendez

FROM THE INQUIRER

Santiago eyes Duterte, Poe as possible running mate for 2016
By Maila Ager |INQUIRER.net5:21 pm | Wednesday, September 10th, 2014


VIDEO SCREENGRAB: INSET--DAVAO MAYOR DUTERTE

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago is considering several personalities as possible running mate, including Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, should she decide to run for president in 2016.

“I should be president,” Santiago said during a press conference at the Senate on Wednesday.

Asked who she wanted to be her running mate, the senator said: “I would love to run with Duterte.”

The senator also mentioned the names of former presidential wannabe Gilbert Teodoro and Senator Grace Poe as a possible running mate.

“Maybe it’s Miriam and Grace,” Santiago said. She, however, noted the combination of their names sounded like a restaurant and “charming.” Originally posted at 12:05 pm | September 10, 2014

‘I’ve licked cancer, I may run for president’ – Santiago By Maila Ager |INQUIRER.net5:06 pm | Wednesday, August 27th, 2014


Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago AP PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – Just barely two months before announcing she had Stage 4 lung cancer, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago said she has now overcome it and is now considering running for president in 2016.

“I have licked cancer, and I’m actually thinking of several career options. By 2016, I will be disqualified by law to seek another term as senator,” Santiago said in a statement on Wednesday.

”By 2016 I will be disqualified by law to seek another term as senator,” she said.

Last July 2, the senator called a press conference to announce that she was suffering from Stage 4 lung cancer.

After her oncologists issued a diagnosis on lung cancer, Santiago said she was placed on medication called Tarceva (aka Erlotinib) for six weeks, at only one table a day.

Last August 12, she said, St. Luke’s Medical Center in Bonifacio Global City issued a report on a PET/CT Scan stating that the tumor in her “left lung has regressed,” meaning that it has become smaller.

“The latest lab test shows that the cancer cells are waving a white flag. During this time, I only have to work on my stamina . During the six-week period of treatment, I was even able to work on the 2014 editions of some 10 law books which are scheduled for release by the end of the year,” she said.

“I’m not going to be coy. Society leaders have urged me to seek the presidency. I can rise to the occasion, although I was following the other sign posts on the road to recovery,” said the senator.

* Santiago said she would run for president in 2016 if there are enough like-minded people such as Fr. Joaquin Bernas who will support her.

The senator was reacting to Bernas’ remarks that President Aquino should no longer seek a second term and to “give Miriam naman a chance.”

While she has always ran for public office under her own People’s Reform Party, this time, Santiago said she would need to coalesce with one or both among the Liberal Party headed by Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, and the Nacionalista Party led by former Senator Manny Villar.

“After I was diagnosed with cancer, Sen. Manny went to my house and told me, among other things, that my popularity level is very high. But he also said that he is encouraging several hopefuls to raise their survey ratings,” Santiago said.

Quoting from a poem that she recited during the funeral ceremonies for her son who died at 23 years old, Santiago said:

“Do not stand at my grave and weep; I am not there. I do not sleep.”

FROM THE TRIBUNE

House launches probe on Drilon pet project Written by Charlie V. Manalo Tuesday, 09 September 2014 00:00


The P700-million Iloilo Convention Center (ICC) which is Senate President Franklin Drilon’s pet project as an offshoot of the Senate probe on the allegedly overpriced Makati City Parking Lot building. Both projects were undertaken by government contractor Hilmarc’s Cons-truction Corp. (HCC).

The House is seeking an investigation into the P700-million Iloilo Convention Center (ICC) which is Senate President Franklin Drilon’s pet project as an offshoot of the Senate probe on the allegedly overpriced Makati City Parking Lot building.

Both projects were undertaken by government contractor Hilmarc’s Cons-truction Corp. (HCC).

The HCC which is also under investigation by the Senate panel for alleged overprice in the Makati contract has found itself in hot water with the House likely looking into all deals it entered with the government.

A House member said Drilon’s project is more expensive than the world-famous Bird’s Nest Stadium where the 2008 Summer Olympics was held.

Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon told reports said the ICC was only one of several allegedly overpriced government infrastructure projects of HCC.

Ridon said he has officially sought a congressional investigation on contracts HCC had with the government through the filing of House Resolution 1466.

HR 1466 calls on the House committee on public works and highways to “conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the possible cases of corruption and overpricing involving government infrastructure projects contracted with Hilmarc’s Construction Corp. (HCC) by local and national government officials to determine and exact accountability.”

HCC is the contractor in the controversial Makati parking building, which is now being investigated by a sub-panel of the Senate blue ribbon committee.

Ridon’s demand for a probe on all government contracts entered into by HCC was shared by United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) secretary general, Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco, saying that if House counterparts in the Senate are sincere in their quest for the truth regarding their probe on the alleged overpricing of the Makati City Hall 2 Building, then it should include all other government contracts entered into by Hillmarc’s, including the Iloilo project funded mainly through Drilon’s pork and the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

* In HR 1466, Ridon revealed several allegedly overpriced government infrastructure projects involving HCC.
“In the past decade, HCC was able to clinch no less than 20 government infrastructure projects. In some cities, including Iloilo and Makati, HCC was able to clinch two or more government infrastructure projects in consecutive years. Several government projects entered into by HCC have been the center of local and national controversies involving issues of corruption and overpricing,” Ridon said in HR 1466.

Ridon noted that the HCC was also involved with the botched P550-million call center project of the Commission on Higher Education in 2007, and several other government infrastructure in Makati and other local government units.
“Probably the biggest overpriced project involving HCC to date is the P700-million Iloilo Convention Center (ICC), which is said to be a pet project of Senate President Franklin Drilon,” the lawmaker said.

Drilon allocated P200 million of his 2013 Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) for the construction of the ICC. Other sources of funds for the ICC include the P200-million from the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority and another P200 million from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

The project started in 2012 and its construction is being stepped up for it to be finished in time for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec ) meeting in 2015.

Iloilo was said to have been preselected by the organizing committee of Apec to host two of the 20 meetings that will be held in the country in 2015.
On July 8, 2014, Drilon announced that another P100 million had been infused to the ICC project through the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

The contract for Phase I of the ICC was awarded to HCC on the Dec. 2, 2013 with an offer of P479 million for the project which involves the construction of the facade and skeletal structure of the convention center.

With a total price tag of P700 million for a 6,400-square meter infrastructure project, the construction cost per square meter of the ICC stands at a P109,375.00 per square meter valuation.

“This is a staggering amount, considering that according to the estimates of the 2014 Davis Langdon & Seah Handbook on Construction Costs, a 5-star luxury hotel only costs P63,350 to P77,800 per square meter, including amenities,” Ridon noted in HR 1466.

“This means that the cost of building every square meter of the ICC is almost equivalent to the cost of building 15 square meters of the China Convention Center,” Ridon said, in comparing the China cost to Drilon’s ICC.

“Even more confounding is the fact that the construction cost per square meter of the ICC even upstages the world-renowned Beijing National Stadium, more popularly known as the Bird’s Nest – the centerpiece of the 2008 Beijing Olympics,” the lawmaker continued.

Finished in 2008, the gross floor area of the Bird’s Nest is 254.6 thousand square meters, and total construction is $423 million or P18.8 billion (in 2008 conversion rates). This translates to a P73,892 per square meter construction cost. In current prices, the total construction cost of the Bird’s Nest is $463 million or P20.17 billion, bringing the inflation-adjusted per square meter cost of the famous stadium at only P79,216.

“This means that the per square meter cost of the ICC is P30,149 more expensive than that of the Bird’s Nest,” Ridon said.

The lawmaker noted that even at the local level, the ICC cost per square meter is still too high.

In fact, the ICC is four times the actual cost per square meter of the four-level SMX Convention Center located in SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City. The 46,647- square meter project was constructed with a P900-million budget. Adjusted to current prices, the P26,400 construction cost per square meter of the SMX Convention Center still is only a quarter of the P109,375 cost per square meter of the ICC.

“If we match the cost of the ICC to the per square meter cost of the Bird’s Nest, the budget for the Iloilo project will appear overpriced by P191 million. Worse, if the ICC was built with the same cost per square meter of the SMX Convention Center, it will appear that it is overpriced by P531 million,” Ridon said.

“Reviewing Hilmarc’s dealings with the government is akin to opening the proverbial can of worms. Even just a cursory look will reveal several controversies at the national and local level,” Ridon said.

Apart from the ICC, HCC was also the contractor in several other controversial government infrastructure, including: (a) The P500-million Iloilo Capitol Building in early 2000.

In a news report dated 2005, then Iloilo Vice Gov. Roberto Armada called for the probe of the infrastructure after finding structural defects such as hairline cracks on the façade of the building.

This was no more than two years after construction of the project was concluded; (b) The P200 million contract for the construction of the Abra Provincial Hospital in 2010 – The 170-bed capacity building stood on a total floor area of 5,498 square meters. The completion of the project went past the deadline after the crib wall of the stonemasonry collapsed and structural defects became evident after a storm hit the province in 2011; and, (c) The controversial New Government Center (NGC) of Bacolod, constructed in 2010 – According to the Commission on Audit, HCC failed to deliver the road construction works clearly included in the Terms of Reference of the contract for the NGC. Under the ToR, the perimeter road work is part of the architectural and engineering design item of the contract. CoA further questioned City Mayor Evelio Leonardia and the Sangguniang Panglungsod (SP) for approving a P25-million appropriation for the said perimeter road works, in their full knowledge that this item is part of the Hilmarc’s contract. CoA also demanded an explanation from the City Engineer’s office, for allowing HCC to turn over the project with incomplete deliverables

FROM THE KABATAAN PARTY LIST WEBSITE

Bidding for Iloilo Convention Center possibly rigged 9 SEPTEMBER 2014 153 VIEWS NO COMMENT


DRILON'S PET PROJECT

Following his revelation that the Iloilo Convention Center (ICC) is possibly overpriced and can even be more expensive – on a per square meter valuation – than China’s Bird’s Nest Stadium, Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon said Tuesday that the P479.8-million contract for construction of Phase I of the ICC is also possibly rigged.

Ridon noted that in the contract entered by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) with Hilmarc’s Construction Corporation (HCC), it is stated that the project has been undertaken under “negotiated procurement.”

“In the upcoming congressional investigation, we need to know whether the bidding of the contract was rigged, similar to the allegation in the Makati Parking Building project,” Ridon said.

The lawmaker revealed that in DPWH’s Resolution No. 09-2013 dated July 13, 2013, the department announced the “failure of competitive bidding and subsequent re-bidding” of the ICC Phase I contract.

According to DPWH Resolution No. 09-2013, in the competitive bidding for the ICC, only two contractors submitted bids for the project, namely WT Construction, Inc. and R.D. Policarpio & Co., Inc.

Meanwhile, six other contractors, namely A.M. Oreta & Co. Inc./IBC International Builders Corporation (JV), Frey-Fil Corporation, Young Builders Corporation, Tokwing Construction Corporation, J Bros Construction and Hilmarc’s Construction Corporation, submitted letter of non-participation for the project.

In HCC’s letter of non-participation, the company explained that the reason for their non-participation was that they cannot meet the P482.5-million approved budget for the contract.

In the same resolution, DPWH explained that R.D. Policarpio & Co., Inc. failed to meet the minimum equipment requirement for the ICC project. Meanwhile, the financial documents of WT Construction, Inc. was declared failed for submitting a bid of P495,567,461.79 which is above the approved budget for the ICC.

On December 2, 2013, DPWH released the contract declaring Hilmarc’s as the contractor for Phase I of the ICC.

“It is disturbing to note that in the competitive bidding, Hilmarc’s did not even participate. But through negotiated procurement, it was able to clinch the project. It is highly possible that the contract is rigged,” Ridon said.

Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act defines negotiated procurement as a method of procurement wherein “the procuring entity directly negotiates a contract with a technically, legally and financially capable supplier, contractor or consultant.”

Section 53 of RA 9184 states that there are only certain instances wherein a procuring government entity could resort to negotiated bidding, which includes cases of two failed biddings, emergency situations, take-over of rescinded contracts, and in cases when a subject contract is “adjacent or contiguous to an ongoing infrastructure project.”

“Letting a multimillion project undergo negotiated procurement is suspicious since it opens the procurement process to possible rigging of contract,” Ridon said.

Let investigation bring out facts

The youth solon also refuted Sen. Franklin Drilon’s claim that the ICC’s cost per square meter is only P63,893.

“We should remember that at present, it is just Phase I of the project that is ongoing. And that’s already P479.8 million. DPWH Region VI has already released varying estimates for the cost of the entire project, with the P700 million tag price seen as only the cost of the skeletal structure of the ICC. Some estimates for the whole project cost range from P830 million to even P1 billion.

“Clearly, there is a need for an investigation on the matter to bring out the facts of the issue. We should remember that PDAF and DAP funds have been used for this particular project,” Ridon said.

* The lawmaker noted that even if Drilon’s P63,893 per square meter estimate is proven to be accurate, it may still be considered overpriced.

“If we compare it to the SMX Convention Center, for example, we will see that the ICC is grossly overpriced,” Ridon said.

The four-level SMX Convention Center located in SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City was constructed with a P900-million budget. Adjusted to current prices, this translates to a P26,400 construction cost per square meter for the 46,647- square meter building.

Comprehensive probe

Ridon also emphasized that the investigation he is seeking through House Resolution No. 1466 does not only involve the ICC but also several other government projects clinched by the HCC.

Stated in full, HR 1466 calls on the House Committee on Public Works and Highways to “conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the possible cases of corruption and overpricing involving government infrastructure projects contracted with Hilmarc’s Construction Corporation (HCC) by local and national government officials to determine and exact accountability.”

“There is the Iloilo Capitol Building, the Bacolod New Government Center, the Abra Provincial Hospital, and of course the Hilmarc’s-constructed government buildings in Makati including the parking building, the Makati Police Station, and the Ospital ng Makati,” he said.

“We want a comprehensive review of projects. ICC is just one of the possibly anomalous infrastructure projects. We need to point out that this is an investigation in aid of legislation, and the end goal is for the investigation to serve as the foundation for the creation of stronger laws against contract rigging and overpricing,” Ridon added.

“The repetitive selection of HCC for various anomalous government projects points to its probable close relations with high-ranking officials both on the national and local level. Such relationship may have translated to favorable conditions for both the HCC and the officials involved, as it is possible that HCC engages in institutionalized overpricing in government projects in exchange of the rigging of bidding processes by the government officials,” Ridon said.

“In the pursuit of accountability and transparency, all government officials that transacted with HCC should submit themselves for questioning and investigation, so that the House of Representatives may be able exact accountability,” he concluded.Slide1

MANILA STANDARD OPINION

At Noynoy’s pleasure  By Jojo Robles | Sep. 11, 2014 at 12:01am

By now, only the most pigheaded of supporters of this malingering administration will have failed to notice one of the most unique traits of the current ruler: no one ever gets fired from President Noynoy Aquino’s Cabinet.

It doesn’t matter how malevolent the anomaly or how world-beating the incompetence. None of the members of the President’s official family gets the boot because they enjoy the unwavering “trust and confidence” of the man on top.

It’s unusual because all previous governments have practiced the sort of Cabinet bloodletting that is intended to head off public anger at the Malacañang occupant. It shows that government is responsive and willing to sacrifice its own men on the altar of public opinion; it is also a regular admission that finding the right people for the right job is a continuous process and that while sometimes the incompetent and the corrupt may infiltrate the highest offices of government, they will eventually be discovered and shown the door.

Recent events have given us no shortage of Cabinet-level people who should have been fired. But for some strange reason, they soldier on, declaring that they serve “at the pleasure of the President,” as if doing so excludes the pleasure of the people at whose sufferance this President even governs.

Off the top of my head, I can name any number of people who should have been given pink slips by Aquino but who have remained firmly in their posts, like speed bumps of the daang matuwid. There is Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman, who is once again embroiled in controversy regarding the misuse of aid to the victims of Typhoon Yolanda; the very durable Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, who loves going around with an aide protecting him with an umbrella as he surveys what his incompetence has wrought in the MRT; Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla, mastermind of the manufactured power crisis in the midst of the continuing regime of the region’s highest electricity prices; the folksy and the somewhat defanged (but still around) Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, who carries on despite the still-unexplained disappearance of billions in pork funds in his various agencies and the continuing skyrocketing of prices and tight supply of every agricultural product from rice to garlic; there’s every one of the spokesmen of Aquino, who have heaped so much criticism on their boss for misspeaking on so many occasions that they could fill an entire book on how not to perform the job of being mouthpieces of the President.

On the sub-Cabinet level, there are even more shameless officials who are widely believed to be incompetent, corrupt or both. There’s the whiny Metro Manila Development Authority Chairman Francis Tolentino, the architect of all traffic gridlock; the chief of the national police, General Alan Purisima, who went from building a Camp Crame mansion to doing nothing about crime, including organized crime perpetrated by his own uniformed people; there is Customs Commissioner John Sevilla, who can’t seem to understand that he is sabotaging the economy by hoarding all the shipments that arrive in the Port of Manila; and there’s that long-standing favorite of businessman and wage-earner alike, Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares, who keeps missing her own revenue targets as she goes after sari-sari store owners while letting all the tax-evading big fish go scot-free.

* Where, as their boss once demanded, do these people purchase the thick faces that allow them to carry on as if the people don’t start and end their days cursing them under their collective breaths? Why, if they will not leave under their own steam, shamed and crawling back under the rocks where they were discovered, can’t they be fired?

* * *

I’ll tell you where and why: they all get their inspiration from the one man whom Aquino doesn’t have the cojones to remove, because his entire government could collapse if he so much as makes a move against him—the biggest, baddest, most protected Cabinet guy of all, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad.

Yes, if some mid-level Cabinet or sub-Cabinet official official feels the heat of adverse public opinion, he or she can always look to Abad. If the Supreme Court itself, after all, can accuse the budget secretary of committing acts that are against the very Constitution and remain in office, why should they get worried?

Never mind if Cabinet men are traditionally supposed to fall on their swords and take the blame for the boss. Under the current dispensation, that role of the Cabinet official has disappeared—never mind if the President has to take all the blame and even apologize for the failings of the men and women who gummed up the works in his much-abused name.

It’s pathetic, really, how Aquino has to defend all of his men all the time, in part because his own personality is never to admit making a mistake, even in the perfectly understandable situation of finding the wrong person for a particular job. But what’s truly sad is how not just this administration but the entire nation suffers because of how these do-nothing leeches serve at Aquino’s pleasure.

If Aquino had any sense at all, he’d fire Abad. If that doesn’t strike the fear of God into every corrupt, non-performing member of his Cabinet (and immediately restore some faith in his ability to govern), I don’t know what will.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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