NOTE: THIS STORY WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE BOHOL CHRONICLE’S SUNDAY PRINT EDITION.
Appalled by the brazen and rampant corruption gripping the awarding of infrastructure contracts involving the top echelons of the provincial hierarchy, concerned contractors of Bohol warned that “if Governor Arthur Yap and his allies are given another term of office, the anomalies happening now will not only continue but will become worse than ever.”
Seventeen contractors signed an appeal “We need a new leadership in the Provincial Government of Bohol while pushing for “a clean government and give the Boholanos a fair chance to succeed in life.”
The appeal also urged the Boholanos “to stand strong and united in supporting the gubernatorial candidacy of Congressman Erico Aristotle Aumentado.”
Last termer Aumentado of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) is gunning for the gubernatorial seat against incumbent Yap who is seeking reelection for a second term under the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban). Two other candidates are also running as independents.
Expressing their disappointment towards the Provincial Government under Yap, the contractors claimed that “we have been treated unfairly and milked of our hard-earned money.”
The widespread perception of public officials tampering with the procurement process to favor bidders which is not necessarily the best offer but rather one that paid the best price has led local contractors to shun the bidding of provincial projects.
Singled out by the contractors is the provincial government although projects are bidded out by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Local Government Units (LGUs).
The local contractors bitterly narrated their ordeal of submitting competitive and responsive bids for provincial projects but the “contract is almost always awarded to favored Cebu-based contractors or to those based outside Bohol.”
The contractors ruefully described their predicament as “marked to lose in the bidding even if he deserves to win.”
Worst, according to the contractors, “In those rare instances we are awarded the contract, representatives of high government officials demand from us huge amount of money before we could mobilize and as a condition to receive our full payment when we have completed the project.”
Contractors are entitled to advance payment of 15% of the total contract price to cover the cost of mobilizing their equipment to the job site, according to Republic Act 9184 known as the “Government Procurement Reform Act”.
Moreover, according to several local contractors, it is common knowledge that 18% is the add-on amount tacked into the bidder’s offer as assurance that the bid is acceptable to the procuring entity.
To participate in the alleged “rigged bidding”, a clearance from a certain “Irwin Sy” is required, according to a contractor who was compelled to seek approval from Sy before he was allowed to purchase the bid documents.
“We are not asking for preferential treatment. We ask only to be treated with justice and fairness,” according to the contractors.
However, with the present conditions, it is apparent that the “present occupant of Capitol is hell-bent to stay in power by any means “bleeding the contractors dry and eventually” it is the people of Bohol who will suffer in the end.” (Chito M. Visarra)