Saavedra seeks NBI probe vs eight Cebu City officials

BUSINESSMAN Crisologo Saavedra has filed a complaint before the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) against Cebu City Administrator Floro Casas Jr., Cebu City Attorney Rey Gealon and six members of the city’s Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) for alleged anomalies in the bidding of the second phase of the city’s modern traffic lights and CCTV project.

In his complaint, Saavedra identified the BAC members as Joel Reston, Lowell Corminal, Santiago Ortiz, Emmanuel Cuizon, Jonil Matuguina, and Junine Aragones.

The BAC for Infrastructure used to be chaired by Gealon.

Saavedra said the respondents failed to follow proper bidding procedures by prescribing an insufficient number of days in the advertisement or posting of the Invitation to Apply for Eligibility and to Bid (IAEB); exceeding the required periods for the eligibility screening, bid evaluation, post-qualification for each lowest calculated bidder or for awarding each lowest calculated bidder or for awarding the contract without justifiable cause; and conducting the pre-bid conference or issuing the bidding documents in less than the required number of days before the submission and opening of bids.

Saavedra also claimed the BAC required the bidder to submit additional documents which was tantamount to improving his bidding documents; and allowed a bidder to become eligible or pass the post-qualification even though the documents were incomplete.

RA 9184

Republic Act (RA) 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act states that “the pre-bid conference shall be held at least 12 calendar days before the deadline for the submission and receipts of the bids, but not earlier than seven days from the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System (PHILGEPS) posting of the invitation to bid.”

Saavedra, in his complaint, said the City’s BAC published in Philgeps its invitation for the procurement of the traffic lights and CCTV only on July 13, 2021.

A pre-bid conference was held on July 22 attended by two bidders, the Net Pacific Corp. and the contractor undertaking the first phase, and the bid was then opened on Aug. 3, said Saavedra.

Saavedra said the BAC favored the contractor who undertook the first phase of the project, which he said previously failed to meet the deadline for the completion of the project.

He said the bidders had 12 calendar days from the pre-bid conference to submit the required documents but the period was not enough for the bidders to prepare all their documents.

Saavedra included in his complaint a copy of a request-letter from NET Pacific Corp., asking for an extension of the deadline for the submission of the bids.

“In connection of the Technical Compliance requirement on Item 7, NET Pacific or other interested bidder, has to coordinate with their equipment manufacturing partners abroad (China or other countries) and the 12 calendar days to submit the bidding document for the opening of the bids is not enough to comply with the Item 7 of the Bidder’s Requirements and Qualifications unless bidders will be forced to submit fake documents to qualify because of the very short time requirement for submission only 12 calendar days,” said Saavedra.

Casas, in a brief statement sent to SunStar, said he has yet to receive a copy of the complaint.

“While we respect his right to file whatever case he wants, we are not afraid because we always strictly follow RA 9184 in all our procurements,” said Casas.

Casas has yet to provide the details of the project since the interview was done during a local holiday when government offices were closed.