• Tue. Aug 9th, 2022

Audit Committee notifies Cordova executives of bidding activities

ByChad J. Johnson

Jul 12, 2022

THE Commission on Audit (COA) has drawn the attention of the former administration of the city of Cordoba, Cebu, to its procurement activities in 2021, including the conduct of public tenders for construction projects. infrastructure worth 23.5 million pesos in which participated and awarded to single bidders.

State auditors also found that Cordova’s previous administration, led by then-Mayor Mary Therese “Teche” Sitoy-Cho, purchased a garbage truck and launched 10 infrastructure projects in 2021. through a public tender worth 18.7 million pesos without supporting documents.

In its March 2022 management letter to the city government, the COA questioned city officials led by Sitoy-Cho on why they allowed lone bidders to participate in the public tender of at least least 21 infrastructure projects totaling 23.5 million pesos.

Based on the ACO’s review of the disbursement vouchers and supporting documents, the 21 projects that were tendered from June 30 to August 31, 2021 were all participated by a single tenderer per procedure.

According to COA, about five construction companies were selected as bidders for the 21 projects, with one company having eight projects totaling 10.3 million pesos.

Not illegal but…

State auditors have found that although only one bidder can participate and win the contracts, it can sometimes happen that prevents competitiveness as stated in Republic Act (RA) 9184 or the Public Procurement Act .

“The audit team would like to point out that although having only one bidder in a procurement project can sometimes happen; however, when all procurement projects have been participated by a single bidder, it will raise awareness certainly raise suspicion and will cast doubt on the integrity of the bidding process,” state auditors said.

“While we do not question the ability and capacity of repeat bidders to complete the projects for which they have been awarded, it would give the impression that they are favored by the municipality, therefore, in order to eliminate this, and as well as to avoid the impression of having rigged the bidding process, it is necessary to adopt additional measures to ensure that the spirit of competitiveness and equality which are the fundamental principles of the public procurement law will be achieved,” they added.

State auditors have recommended that the municipal government direct the Tenders and Awards Committee (BAC) Secretariat to strictly comply with RA 9184 by posting the Invitation to Tender (ITB) in prominent places and on the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System (PhilGEPS) website.

They also urged the city to “propose additional measures in publicizing ITBs, such as posting on the municipality’s own social media accounts.”

In a statement sent by her office at SunStar Cebu on July 12, 2022, Sitoy-Cho said that just before her term ended on June 30, she had already brought the matter to the attention of the BAC secretariat.

The president of the city’s BAC, in an official letter to the COA, explained that they had posted tenders on the PhilGEPS website and in prominent places and justified that the projects mentioned had been awarded to different contractors.

The president of the city’s BAC also added that only isolated bidders participated in their procedures for the projects mentioned because these were carried out in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

No supporting documents

In the same report, state auditors also questioned city officials for purchasing a garbage truck and launching 10 infrastructure projects in 2021 through a public tender worth of 18.7 million pesos without supporting documents.

In a review of the city’s transactions from June 30 to August 31 of last year, state auditors found that there were no supporting documents for tenders conducted by the municipal government when it acquired a garbage truck worth 1.9 million pesos and threw around 16.7 pesos. million in infrastructure projects, including a P4.9 million extension to the city’s executive building.

State auditors found that the garbage truck and infrastructure projects were tendered even though BAC had not submitted duly received invitations to at least three observers to all tenders mentioned, even if required under RA 9184.

The Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) to RA 9184 state that in addition to a COA representative, at least two observers, who will not be entitled to vote on bids, must sit as observers.

State auditors also found that plans/sketches of infrastructure projects and tenders for the mentioned contracts, which should have been included in the tender documents, were not submitted by successful bidders.

Another supporting document that was not provided was the certificate from the head of the BAC secretariat that the tender was posted in a visible place and the printout of the tender display on the PhilGEPS website.

The municipal government also failed to submit the minutes of the pre-tender conference conducted on a road concreting project at Sitio Camolinas in Barangay Poblacion and for the garbage truck worth 1.997 million pesos and 1.998 million pesos, respectively, even though the IRR of RA 9184 states that a pre-tender conference must be held for contracts with an approved budget of 1 million or more of pesos.

A pre-tender conference, as set forth in RA 9184, is intended to clarify and explain the requirements, terms, conditions and specifications stated in the tender documents.

The municipal government also failed to submit other documents such as eligibility and technical documents and information for all contracts cited; bid opening minutes and bid summaries for the garbage truck and three infrastructure projects; income and business tax returns of successful bidders; Resolution of the BAC recommending to the municipal mayor the awarding of the contract and/or notice of award for two projects, among others.

“The absence of these documents has raised doubts that the procedures required in the conduct of public tenders have been properly observed by BAC. Failure to submit the above documents may result in the issuance of a Notice of Suspension and/or Rejection,” listeners added.

They recommended that the municipal government, through the BAC and the municipal accountant, submit the missing documents or submit a written explanation explaining why the contracts for the mentioned projects were awarded and paid despite the incomplete documentation.

To submit missing documents

In their response to the COA report, Sitoy-Cho and his team said that the BAC president had committed to submitting the missing documentary requirements.

“The President of BAC informed that all these documents were simply on file because they are required during the call for tenders and the municipal mayor (Sitoy-Cho) will not sign the check and the disbursement vouchers without these supporting documents. These may have been withdrawn when the disbursement vouchers were submitted to the audit team,” the city government said in its response.