Revisions and change orders

The controversy hounding the Mabilog administration on the construction of the seven-story new City Hall simply refuses to die down. In fact, the conflagration is raging with greater intensity, because Mabilog has only doused with gasoline, instead of water, on the burning issues. And as more people, including engineers and contractors scrutinized the documents, more questions have cropped up. It is now one big complicated problem for Mabilog.

Mabilog gives the P294-million package that he wants to introduce into the City Hall to get it ready for occupancy as “revisions” which are contiguous with phase one of the project. The use of the term “revisions” is questionable. There might be revisions that Mabilog wants to implement, but that only constitutes a minor portion of the P294-million package. The elevators, airconditioning, cabling, power generator, pumps and tanks do not fall under the scope of “revisions”.  These are individual items that in fact can be supplied directly by manufacturers or exclusive distributors.

With that in mind, the city government should re-examine its position that phase II could be implemented through negotiated  contract.  The provision of equipment and facilities are distinct and separate activities from the construction of the building. The city council can parcel out the contracts for elevators, airconditioners, etc. By going into a negotiated contract, the city government will essentially circumvent the procurement law and prevent a competitive bidding for these equipment. It will give the contractor blanket authority to procure certain brands without ascertaining the best possible deals for the city.

There is also the matter of the revisions on the original plan. A contractor pointed out to me that by eliminating the parking space on the third floor, the city government should actually enjoy substantial savings on the building costs. That’s because the ramp going to the third floor is made of thick, solid concrete to carry the load of cars going up and down. With the ramp gone, millions of pesos will actually be saved. But the revision plans approved by Mabilog show a different result. Instead of savings, the revision plans entails a bigger cost. How could this happen?

It also bleeds my heart to see Mabilog tell reporters on television that nothing could stop his plan to buy the 3,086-sqm. Kerr and Company property beside the “lunok” tree for P35 million. I don’t think he even understands what he is talking about. How can he utilize it for parking purposes when there are two buildings on the property that will diminish the parking spaces? And even if he has the two-century old building demolished, the property would be scandalously expensive to be used just for parking.

Mabilog should be reminded that it’s the people’s money that he intends to splurge on the City Hall. It’s not his money. And the raging controversy is clearly eroding the public’s trust and confidence in him. By insisting on his plans, Mabilog is showing insensitivity and indifference to public opinion. He will do whatever pleases him even if it’s being exposed as grossly disadvantageous to the government and violates the constitutional mandate for government to be modest and simple and thrifty in the handling of public funds.

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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