By Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte is prepared to face lawsuits and even imprisonment over his plans to defy the government procurement law in favor of the Swiss challenge system for infrastructure projects.
The President argued that the lowest-bid rule in government contracts has been abused by the “golf course” syndicate and has bred corruption in government.
Projects subjected to Swiss challenge, on the other hand, would help curb corruption and improve quality and efficiency in the development of projects, according to the President.
“‘Yang lowest bid na ‘yan, that is the source of all corruption, beginning from the national to the local hanggang barangay [The lowest bid rule is the source of all corruption beginning from the national to the local down to the barangay],” Duterte said during the 45th anniversary rites of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) in Pasig City last Tuesday.
“We go to Swiss challenge but COA seems to be adamant on it. I’m telling the Congress, I will not follow you. Magkagulo tayo, bahala, mag-demanda kayo. Tutal sabay-sabay lang sila sa human rights, magpakulong ako [We’ll have chaos, you can sue me. That’s up to you. Besides, they can join the human rights (critics), I’m ready to go to jail],” he added.
The President earlier announced that he wanted government to do away with the awarding of contracts to the lowest bidder since these corruption-tainted projects were often substandard.
Duterte proposed instead the infrastructure projects will be subjected to Swiss challenge where third parties can match or surpass the original proposal. He said projects could be also pursued under a turnkey scheme.
“There was a statement by Congress na we cannot altogether remove. I will not obey you and even the COA. Lahat ng projects will be on turnkey, parang Swiss challenge,” Duterte said during a Bureau of Customs (BOC) event in Manila last Tuesday afternoon.
“I’m building this mega structure. You want it? Build it for me. You just follow the specifications, because at the end of the day, sa delivery, may hindi maganda diyan, hindi kita bayaran [if it’s not good, I will not pay you]. Worst, I would expropriate it and I’ll just give you token amount,” he said.
In the same BOC event, the President threatened to kill these unscrupulous businessmen involved in anomalous bidding of government contracts.
He said these contractors were playing golf while rigging the public bidding and bribing officials to get the project.
“They’re just playing golf, may kasamang mga babae. Kilala ko, gusto ko ngang patayin ang mga — one of these days ma-ambush ‘yan [They’re just playing golf with some girls. I know them…. One of these days, they will be ambushed],” he said.
Duterte said the current procurement system, where the government awards the contract to the lowest bidder, has resulted to low-quality projects. “Parang lipstick, after one or two thunderstorm, wala na [It’s like lipstick. After one or two thunderstorms, it’s gone],” he said.