House leaders question timeline of bidding for PCSO lottery system

By Charissa Luci-Atienza

A leader of the House of Representatives has asked the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) to clarify the pre- and post-qualification requirements of bidders for the procurement of goods of the five-year lease of the PCSO lottery system (PLS).


Outgoing Parañaque Rep. Gus Tambunting, chairman of the House Committee on Games and Amusements, has written PCSO chairman and concurrent general manager Anselmo Simeon Pinili and three members of the PCSO Board of Directors to seek clarification on the invitation to bid for the procurement of goods relating to the five years lease of the PLS as posted in the PCSO's website on May 17, 2019.

In a three-page letter dated June 7, 2019, he said the time component in the submission of bids is "too limiting and will restrict the submission of quality bids."

"After a careful review and clear understanding of the Bid Guidelines, there are specific requirements in the guidelines that may greatly impact on the success of the bidding," Tambunting said.

He noted that the period to prepare and submit a bid is limited to only 45 days.

The pre-bid conference, which was attended by Tambunting as guest speaker, was held on June 3, 2019, while the deadline for submission of bids is set on July 1, 2019, according to the Bid Guidelines officially released in the PCSO website on May 17.

"For a government project that involves more or less P8 billion of taxpayers' money, a period of 45 days are certainly inadequate to arrive at a well-thought out and calculated bid given the necessity of considering the technical, operational, and financial requirements of the project," Tambunting said.

Minority Leader and outgoing Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez, chairman of the House Committee on Public Accounts also questioned the timeline of bidding for the PCSO lottery system.

“The short bidding timeline puts incumbents in a favorable position, what is the rationale? Why even bother to bid in the first place? We recommend that the products be disaggregated and that the Terms of Reference be revised accordingly,” he said.

Tambunting also questioned a pre-qualification requirement that the bidder must have completed a single contract value for a similar gaming system of at least 50 percent of the approved budget for the contract.

"The forestated pre-qualification requirement raises a serious doubt on its feasibility," he said.

He explained that locally and internationally, there can only be a few available suppliers or operators that can comply with the requirement.

"Rather, the PCSO should open the bidding to as wide as bidders as possible by expanding the requirement of contract value from a single contract to aggregate contract value similar to this project, " he said.

"In the alternative, the PCSO may also consider the scale of the operation instead of focusing simply on the value of a single contract," he added.

Tambunting also asked the PCSO why it requires the winning bidder, under its supervision, to develop and install at least one new lottery/digit game and at least one mobile application per year for the whole duration of the contract, free of charge.

"The foregoing requirement expands the coverage of the bid from lottery outlet operations into mobile lottery system. This can be construed as incorporating other mobile game applications into existing PLS. I would like to know if this is the real intention of the PCSO," Tambunting said.

"As the subject invitation to bid for the procurement of goods involved public interest, we owe it to the public to make our intention as clear and transparent as possible. For this reason, I look forward to your clarification," he said.