Diokno: Ignore complaints re alleged irregularity in 2017 ASEAN hosting bidding

Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno press briefing on concerns raised on biudding of 2017 Philippine hosting of ASEAN 50th anniversary. Malacanang photo by Toto Lozano.

Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said he ordered to proceed with the awarding of contract to the lone bidder of the P2.8 billion job of “Technical and Conference Integrator” for the Philippine hosting of the 2017 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) 50th anniversary and ignore complaints about alleged irregularities in the bidding.

In a press briefing in Malacanang Tuesday where he insisted that the government complied with the bidding process, Diokno said he agreed with Director General Marciano Paynor, Jr. of the ASEAN National Organizing Committee (NOC) that they should talk to just one bidder in the biggest contract in the Philippine history of events management.

“So sabi ni ano, we should just have one bidder, I want to talk to one person. So ‘yun ang nangyari doon. Small company lang ‘tong EON eh,” Diokno said.

Diokno further said, “So sabi ko, ibigay mo na. Ignore that EON complaint.”

Diokno skirted the main issue raised by EON (Events Organizer Network Inc.) in a two-part articleby VERA Files that the Department of Budget and Management- Procurement Service-Bids and Awards Committee (DBM-PS-BAC) violated the government procurement law,Republic Act 9184 when it bidded out the gargantuan project as “goods” instead of “services” when the job called for a “Technical and Conference Integrator” and required technical services such as microphone, lights, audio and video recording; conference services such as interpreters; and integrator services similar to project management services.

EON also alleged that theDBM imposed unlawful, unreasonable and restrictive requirements that barred competition. In its letter to the DBM-PS, EON asked government to reject the sole bid and either declare a failure of bidding or stop the award of the contract.

Stagecraft , with a bid of P1 billion, was the lone bidder in the bidding last Dec. 1.

Diokno echoed the statements of DMB and ASEAN-NOC officials interviewed by VERA Files that time element was a major factor in short-cutting the bidding process. “You know, ASEAN is this year. So we have to be, we have to act with dispatch, right?,” Diokno said.

Diokno also dismissed the proposal of EON, which had handled the 2012 Asian Development Bank Annual Board of Governors Meeting in Manila and the 2014 World Economic Forum on East Asia, to divide the whole LOT of 48 meetings into four Lots: Lot 1 for the two Leaders’ meetings, Lot 2 for the three commemorative meetings, Lot 3 for the 14 ministerial meetings, and Lot 4 for 29 ministerial meetings.

Diokno also noted that StageCraft’s bid was only for P1 billion. “The total budget for that service that was bid out was 2.9 billion, 2.9 billion. You know how much the winning bidder bid? 1 billion. Ayaw pa ba natin ‘yun? “

Lawyer Andre Palacios, EON’s Senior Adviser for Policy, Public Affairs and Government Relations, said giving “unwarranted benefit to StageCraft was grossly disadvantageous to the government.”

He said, “The bid price could have gone lower, if there was genuine competition, because genuine competition will ensure government will get the best price and the most competent provider. While the government has a budget of P2.88 billion, it will only pay what the best bidder offered, in this case P1-billion. But there can always be addendum or supplemental cost that the contractor may ask but limited to 20 percent of the total approved procurement budget.”

Here’s the full transcript of Secretary Diokno’s briefing:

Mr. Castillo: Sir, on ASEAN hosting, sir. There are reports that apparently there was a shortcut on the bidding process on the 2.8 billion ASEAN hosting deal, sir. Your reaction, sir?
SEC. DIOKNO: Thank you, you asked that question. Again before the end of the day, I’ll give you the details of that, right, it’s being typed right now.
You know, ASEAN is this year. So we have to be, we have to act with dispatch, right? And there’s a part of the project — a project which is part of the 15 billion allocation for that has been bidded out, but we complied with all the steps, okay.
Now, only one [inaudible] submitted a bid, this is the same bidder who won the right to provide the service in the 2015 APEC.
Now, EON did not even submit a bid. So I’m surprised that he’s now complaining and he cannot really comply with, because the kind of services that he is providing is very limited.
The total budget for that service that was bid out was 2.9 billion, 2.9 billion. You know how much the winning bidder bid? 1 billion. Ayaw pa ba natin ‘yun? 2.9 nga ‘yung estimate ni Ambassador Paynor, ito nag-bid siya ng 1 billion and the same bid that he submitted two years ago because of the APEC.
So talagang ano, talagang hindi ko maintindihan bakit, bakit, why the press gave him the space ‘no? Eh nagkataon pa naman holiday wala kong matawagang opisina, sarado opisina namin. So it’s really a hassle. Hindi nga siya qualified mag-bid eh. And in fact, he did not bid, all right?
Mr. Castillo: Sir, only one bidder wala pong irregularity sa ganon, sir?
SEC. DIOKNO: Walang bid. There’s a one qualifying bid that’s valid, hindi failure ‘yun.
Mr. Castillo: So the final price is 2.8, ‘yung project?
SEC. DIOKNO: No, no, the estimate is 2.9, 2.88. Ang bid ‘nong nanalo is 1. So sabi ko ngayon, ibigay niyo na, ibigay niyo na.
Kaya lang pala sila — hindi nila ibinigay kasi hinahantay nila ‘yung 2016 budget, which is effective today.
So sabi ko, ibigay mo na. Ignore that EON complaint.
Mr. Castillo: Thank you, sir.
Mr. Bencito: Hi, sir. Sir follow-up lang doon sa ASEAN question. Sir, the company was some kind of insinuating na the reason why the process was shortcuted kasi daw po goods ‘yung dineclare (declare) na PBD, Philippine Bid Documents sa PhilGEPS, when it should be categorized as consulting services which would take a longer time period, sir. What’s your reaction on this?
SEC. DIOKNO: Actually, it’s a combination of goods plus technical, all right — goods plus technical. Ang point ‘nong EON which is a smaller company, is dapat brineak (break) up into five para mag-qualify siya doon sa isa sa technical kasi ano naman ‘yon eh, ano siya, parang party provider lang siya ‘di ba, ganon.
So ang may ayaw — ang may ayaw ‘yung si Ambassador Paynor kasi he doesn’t want to talk to five people ‘di ba? Isa lang dapat. So ‘yun ang, ‘yun…Kasi kung ibe-break up mo ‘yung contract, you break it up into five small projects, magku-qualify ‘yung EON doon sa one of the five.
Sabi ni… Kasi we’re running out of time already, napaka — ano na ‘yung schedule eh. Ngayon na, mangyayari na ‘yan ngayon eh. There will be a meeting na sometime January ‘no. So we really…There’s really a sense of urgency.
So sabi ni ano, we should just have one bidder, I want to talk to one person. So ‘yun ang nangyari doon. Small company lang ‘tong EON eh.
Mr. Bencito: Sir, follow-up lang po doon sa—
SEC. DIOKNO: And there’s a ruling by…You know, the structure there is there is a GPPB, this is the General Procurement Board which sets the policy and there’s the procurement service.
A procurement service is the implementation arm; the GPPB is the policy board ‘no. And sabi ng policy board, meron na siyang decision, pwede ‘yun. Ganon.

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