The Iloilo Capitol stinks

The much-vaunted “reporma kag pagbag-o (reform and change)” campaign battle-cry of then gubernatorial candidate Arthur Defensor Sr. is quickly sinking into a garbage pit as details about anomalous transactions, particularly in the procurement of contracts, are coming out into the open.

Just this morning (April 13), Bombo Radyo reported the glaring irregularity in the Iloilo Capitol’s award of a P2.9 million contract for the waterproofing of its roofdeck and plug the cracks that have developed in this eight-year old magnificent building. The Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) headed by Provincial Administrator Raul Banias, M.D.,, tried to push a little known contractor, F and T Enterprises, to bag this contract despite its lack of experience and specialty license. As Bombo Radyo anchorman Don Dolido put it, “there is no option left for the BAC but cancel the award.” For the Capitol to go ahead would only draw suspicion that money has changed hands, grease money that is.

But the waterproofing contract is only one of the many anomalies that have been uncovered. It is clear the roadmap for reform and change foisted by Defensor when he was still a candidate had been discarded; an agenda for quick money-making deals have taken its place.

Former Board Member Domingo Oso has complained that the contract for janitorial services was also rigged. He claims the BAC didn’t adhere to the procurement rules mandated by RA 9184, or the Government Procurement Act. The contract was awarded to the third lowest bidder on the pretext that it had submitted the “highest-rated” offer. Oso points out that this term doesn’t exist in the manual for government procurement. It was also discovered that the winning bidder is an “ihada” of Banias during her wedding. Under the circumstances, it’s hard to ignore Oso’s complaint that the bidding was rigged.

There are many other cases which are just now being documented by Bombo Radyo, according to insiders. “The smoke is coming out,” an employee of the Iloilo provincial government familiar with the goings-on in the BAC. The media investigations are likely to lead into the discovery of more collusion in the bidding for drugs and medicines, as well as the security services for the Capitol.  “There’s a lot of rotting carcass that Banias is trying to hide, but can’t hide forever,” said another employee who told about several members of the Technical Working Group (TWG) quitting their posts because they don’t want to be associated with these anomalies.

About Manuel "Boy" Mejorada
Manuel "Boy" Mejorada is a journalist and social media activist. A former Iloilo provincial administrator, he is now waging a crusade against corruption and narco-politics.

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