Gealon says Saavedra asked to delay bidding for client

CEBU City Attorney Rey Gealon, former head of the City’s Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) for infrastructure, downplayed the complaint filed by Crisologo Saavedra, saying the latter had served as consultant to a prospective bidder for the contract to undertake the traffic light system modernization project.

Gealon said Saavedra had requested to postpone the bidding because his client, Net Pacific Corp., required more time to prepare the bidding documents.

Saavedra had filed a complaint before the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) against the members of the City’s BAC for allegedly not following the procurement process.

Among the documents he submitted to the NBI was a copy of his July 29, 2021 letter requesting the BAC to postpone the submission of bids on Aug. 3 as his client required more time to prepare the necessary documents, especially the certification from its joint manufacturing partners.

The BAC, through a resolution, denied Saavedra’s request since this would violate procurement and anti-graft laws.

“Again, we reiterate that Mr. Saavedra wanted his client Net Pacific Corp. to be accommodated by the BAC Infrastructure by giving it more time to prepare and comply with the bidding documents,” said Gealon.

“However, this is clearly giving an undue favor to a prospective bidder and therefore, a violation of the law on procurement and anti-graft laws,” he added.

Saavedra cited Sections 22.3 and 25.5 of the 2016 Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) for the Government Procurement Reform Act as grounds for his request for postponement.

But Gealon said provisions pertaining to the pre-bid period are found in Section 22.2, not 22.3.

Under the law, Gealon said the maximum bidding period is 50 calendar days for projects with a budget of P50 million and below, and 65 calendar days for those above P50 million.

He said Saavedra “deliberately omitted” the phrase “the following maximum periods” in his complaint to make it appear that the BAC violated the maximum period of 65 calendar days.

He said the word “maximum” before the word “periods” is important as it tells a different story.

“Purposely misquoting Section 25.5 by removing the phrase ‘the following maximum periods’ tells a different story. Ignorance or arrogance? Or both?” said Gealon.

The project entails the purchase of traffic lights and closed-circuit television (CCTV) for the traffic system. It has a budget of around P200 million.

The City is now on its second phase of the project, which covers 20 intersections. The first phase, launched early this year, covered 18 intersections.

Earlier, City Administrator Floro Casas Jr. said the BAC respects the decision of Saavedra.

However, he assured that the BAC strictly follows the provisions of the Government Procurement Reform Act.

The procurement of traffic lights and CCTV is part of the second phase of the artificial intelligence traffic system.(JJL)