Junking public bidding entails change in law
PRESIDENT Duterte’s proposal to eliminate the bidding process for public work projects should be studied to ensure that the move would remove corruption and hasten projects, some senators said on Monday.
Last Sunday, Duterte expressed his desire to resort to a Swiss challenge system, “where a government agency that receives an unsolicited proposal for a project from a private group invites third parties to match or offer a better proposal. The original project proponent would be allowed to match that counterbid or improve on it.”
“So henceforth, all projects of the Philippines would be something like a ‘Swiss challenge.’ If I want (a) building, if I want a highway, if I want railroads built, I’ll show to you (contractors) where it is. There would be an open space for everybody,” the President said.
In a statement, Sen. Grace Poe, said she hoped the government would observe a “fair and reasonable Swiss challenge procedure to get the best offer from other qualified contractors and eliminate the very same problem of collusion that has become commonplace in publicly-bidded projects that the President seeks to eliminate.”
The bottomline, Poe said, is that the government should find ways to shorten the procurement process.
“Let us find ways to shorten the process, we can even short-circuit the regulations to eliminate opportunities for corruption, for as long as this will not leave the people shortchanged with substandard projects,” she said.
Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero, meanwhile, stressed that if the President wants the Swiss challenge, the procurement law should be amended.
“If PRRD wants the latter, then, indeed, the law has to be amended. I am not against studying this proposal… However, I will also take this opportunity to review the absence or lack of sufficient specifications and accurate terms of reference which I believe is the real culprit in public biddings,” Escudero said in a text message.
“Simply put… government contracts are mostly ‘supplier driven’ because of the absence or dearth in sufficient studies and research as to what our country and people truly need,” he added.
According to the senator, the current procurement law provides for a system of public bidding which allows the lowest bidder to be awarded the government contract, while the Build-Operate-Transfer Law on the other hand, allows for a Swiss challenge to be made in cases where the proponent has attained the status of an unsolicited bidder. —