By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang said it is up to President Duterte to decide on the fate of the New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam Project if it is proven that the bidding it underwent was staged.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo made the statement after the Commission on Audit (COA) questioned the selection of the contractor for the said project, saying the results of its bidding were in the “guise of being a competitive procurement process.”
The COA also said in its report released over the weekend that two of the three Chinese contractors, supposedly, intentionally did not comply with the qualification requirements.
In his Monday press briefing, Panelo said the Palace is yet to receive the official report from COA. However, he said the Palace would take a look at both the report and the contract awarded to China Energy Engineering Corporation Limited.
“We have not received officially a report on that matter,” he said.
“Siyempre (Of course) we will have to look at the report of COA then look at the contract,” he added.
According to the COA report, the Consortium of Guangdong Foreign Construction was found to be non-compliant with eligibility requirements during the opening of bid.
The COA also said that the bid of Power Construction Corporation of China Limited was “surprisingly higher” by 6.91 percent than the approved budget for the contract.
“It can be deduced that the two bidders/contractors were included merely to comply with the at least three bidders requirement as stated under the Procurement Law,” the report read.
If found true, Panelo said it will be up to the President to decide whether or not to suspend the contract.
“We’ll let the President decide on that,” he said.
The Kaliwa Dam project in Tanay, Rizal is facing opposition from environmental groups and local officials, saying it would displace Indigenous Peoples and will have an adverse effect on the environment.
The project, funded through a loan from China, will cost $248 million or P12.2 billion to complete.
Earlier, Panelo refused to comment on the request of the parties opposing the said project, saying it was up to Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to answer. Medialdea earlier said that Malacañang is open to making public the documents concerning the said project if it is not restricted by Freedom of Information (FOI) rules.
Panelo also said that President Duterte could still stop the construction of the dam if it would be found that the deal is fraudulent.
“Of course, the President can stop anything, unless na ano may kontrata na nagpirmahan na (a contract is already signed),” Panelo said.
“Baka may (There might be) impairment of obligations sa (in the) contract. Pero pwede pa rin (But he can still scrap it) if there was fraud in entering it,” he added.
The China-funded Kaliwa Dam project, aimed to address the water shortage in Metro Manila, is funded by China’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) to the Philippines.