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Jacela claims everything above-board in City Hall contract

Jacela claims everything above-board in City Hall contract

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Published by Manuel Mejorada

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Published by: Manuel Mejorada on May 11, 2012
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Jacela: „no irregularity in City Hall contract‟ The Iloilo City government did not hide anything nor

deceive the public when it awarded the P224-million supplementary contract for the completion of the New City Hall project to the contractor, F. F. Cruz and Co./Filipinas Freyssinet Filipinas joint venture, on July 22, 2011 without undergoing a competitive public bidding, the chairman of its Bids and Awards Committee (BAC), said. In his counter affidavit filed before the Office of the Ombudsman, city legal officer and concurrent BAC chairman Jose Junio G. Jacela said the body performed its mandate when it justified and recommended to City Mayor Jed Patrick E. Mabilog to adopt the negotiated procurement method instead of a public bidding. “I and the members of the committee vehemently deny that we participated in the unlawful award for the supplementary works for the New Iloilo City Hall project without undergoing the mandated competitive public bidding as claimed by the complainant,” Jacela asserted in his counter affidavit dated May 4, 2012. Jacela said the committee recommended to Mabilog as head of the procuring entity on May 24, 2011 to forego the public bidding as the scopes of work had “actual physical contact with and closely connected to the original contract”. The contract was signed on July 22, 2011, he disclosed. Jacela pointed out that the scopes of work in the supplementary contract “were items excluded in the original contract and are being restored with some revisions.” The committee, he added, found it “impossible for the Iloilo City government to undergo public bidding for those items considering that the nature of the works are necessary and indispensable” to the project. Moreover, Jacela said the scopes of work under the supplementary contract were “inherent and inseparable from the ongoing works at the time being rendered by the contractors.” In his counter affidavit, Jacela disclosed that the Commission on Audit (COA) had issued an audit observation memorandum (AOM) in October and December last year questioning the lack of competitive public bidding for the project. Jacela attached a copy of the AOM issued by city auditor Ofelia T. Demegillo dated Dec. 11, 2011 pointing out that there was “no document to show that a public bidding was conducted in the supplemental works, considering the materiality of the cost.” The COA AOM also noted that “there was no proof that the Notice of Award for the Supplemental Works was posted in the PHILGEPS website.” It added that the city government violated a COA circular on the release of the 15% mobilization to the contractor. “The stated Circular provides that the advance payment covers the cost of mobilizing equipment to the job site,” the COA AOM said. “Considering that this is a supplemental agreement and the scope of works do not require heavy equipment, the payment of the additional 15% for mobilization is unnecessary.” Demegillo noted that the COA had raised these issues with Mabilog in a memorandum dated Oct. 3, 2011 but got no reply.

Jacela filed this counter affidavit to refute the complaint filed by journalist Manuel “Boy” Mejorada on the ground that the city government led by Mabilog “surreptitiously” awarded the hefty contract to the F.F. Cruz/Freyssinet joint venture even though the contract involved separate and distinct scopes of work from the original contract. Mabilog had requested for a 15-day extension on the deadline for him to file his counter affidavit, saying he needed more time to “intelligently prepare” his answer. In his complaint, Mejorada said that Mabilog deceived the public when he told local media sometime in the third week of June 2011 that he was putting up the project for competitive public bidding to keep it transparent. It was only after workers of the contractor returned to the project site in September 2011 that the media noticed and asked Mabilog on whether there was a public bidding. Mabilog said no bidding was conducted, claiming that it was COA that advised him to resort to the negotiated procurement method. Time and again, Mabilog‟s spokesman, Jeffrey Celiz, claimed the COA participated in meetings concerning the project implementation and gave its go-ahead. But Jacela‟s counter affidavit belied the claim of Celiz. “The COA never advised us on the actions we were taking on the ground that its duty is only on post audit as the pre-audit has been lifted,” Jacela said. “It merely suggested to us to make sure that the requirements of negotiated contract were substantially met.” Mejorada said he received a copy of Jacela‟s counter affidavit yesterday. The contractor had not yet filed its counter affidavit, he said.

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