Blacklisting of Hilmarc’s in government projects sought
Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon, the lawmaker that first raised the issue of overpricing in the Iloilo Convention Center (ICC), again raised questions on the bidding for the second phase of the multimillion project.
Ridon said that the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Region VI may again be rigging the public bidding in favor of Hilmarc’s Construction Corporation (HCC), which is currently undertaking Phase 1 of the project.
DPWH Regional Director Edilberto Tayao earlier disclosed that the public bidding for the P200-million contract for the ICC Phase 2 last October 20 has failed, following the last-minute pull out of HCC and the disqualification of winning bidder WERR Corp. International.
Tayao explained that HCC pulled out as it cannot accomplish the project given the contract cost.
“The failure of bidding for phase two of the ICC is very suspicious. It is very similar to what transpired in bidding for Phase 1 of the project, in which HCC did not participate, but was able to clinch the project through negotiated procurement after the public biddings failed,” Ridon said.
The legislator said that DPWH may again be “maneuvering” to let HCC bag the project.
“By now, their modus operandi is already apparent. It will not be surprising if in the end, HCC will still clinch the contract for ICC Phase 2 – at the price HCC wants,” Ridon explained.
Ridon has earlier raised in House Resolution No. 1466 that the P700-million ICC, a pet project of Senate President Drilon, might be overpriced.
The ICC has been partly funded by Drilon’s Priority Development Assistance Fund and the Disbursement Acceleration Program.
Just yesterday, former Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel Mejorada charged Drilon, Tayao and several other officials involved in the construction of the ICC with plunder, malversation of public funds, dishonesty and grave misconduct, and violation of Sections 3(e) and 3(g) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Practices Act, in the Office of the Ombudsman.
Meanwhile, Ridon announced that he will file formal blacklisting proceedings against HCC in the DPWH this November.
“The public cannot be put to ease knowing that a construction company involved in several anomalous public infrastructure projects continue to clinch public projects. Blacklisting Hilmarc’s will at least ensure the public that this particular company will no longer engage in projects paid by their taxes,” Ridon said.
Aside from the ICC, HCC is also the contractor behind the controversial Makati Parking Building and several other big-ticket government infrastructure projects.
Congress to summon Tayao
Ridon also said that he intends to summon DPWH Regional Director Tayao in the upcoming hearing for House Resolution No. 1466.
“The House leadership has assured me that the investigation sought by HR 1466 will push through. And we want Tayao, among other officials, to be present in that hearing, as it is apparent that he knows a lot about the ICC construction and possibly the anomalies surrounding it,” Ridon explained.
The lawmaker said that he received information that Tayao “acts like a modern-day shogun” in Western Visayas, as the regional director is in charge of all public infrastructure projects in the said region.
“Even Mr. Mejorada himself revealed that Director Tayao once charged him close to P100,000 for copies of documents on public projects in Region VI – documents that should in the first place be publicly available. It appears that Tayao is the main wingman in the controversial overpricing operations in that part of the country. It is thus essential that he be summoned to Congress,” Ridon explained.
Singson reminded of plenary obligations
Meanwhile, the lawmaker also reminded DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson that his department has yet to submit to Congress documents related to HCC’s transactions with the government.
“During the plenary hearing for the 2015 national budget, we required DPWH to submit said documents, and all other pertinent information on HCC’s engagements with the government. But until now, we have yet to receive even a single file,” Ridon said.
“Is Secretary Singson hiding something from Congress? Why is he not submitting the documents required by no less than the House plenary? May we remind the secretary that it is his obligation to see to it that such documents will indeed be provided to Congress,” he added.