Wrong Chassis? or Wrong Company?
19 October 2013
By Cynthia D. Balana
Philippine Daily Inquirer
| Iturri-Protec-Toro 4X4 Airport Rescue Fire Fighting Vehicle. Image courtesy from Gary Parkinson|
Two Spanish companies and their local partner here have filed a complaint against officials of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) for disqualifying them from a P1.24-billion airport fire truck procurement project.
Iturri S. A. and Protec Fire S. A., which have offices in Metro Manila, brought charges before the Ombudsman against the CAAP bids and awards committee for violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and the Procurement Reform Law, among others.
They also asked that the following be investigated for possible criminal and administrative liabilities: retired Brig. Gen. Rodante Joya, the bids and awards committee chair; lawyer Abdiel Dan Elijah Fajardo, the committee vice chair; and committee members Raul Glorioso, Jose Luna, Concordia Pagkaliwangan and Edgardo Felisilda.
The two firms, with their Philippine joint venture partner, Palmer Asia, had already pre-qualified for the project.
The Iturri joint venture was declared the lowest bidder for the procurement of 37 units of aircraft rescue firefighting (ARFF) equipment and rapid intervention vehicles with an approved budget of P1.239 billion from the Department of Transportation and Communications, of which the CAAP is an attached agency.
The Iturri joint venture complainants asked that the Ombudsman issue a preventive suspension against the respondents so they would not be able to influence the outcome of the investigation.
They also asked that the Ombudsman stop the further bidding or rebidding of the project.
According to Iturri lawyer Hernan Nicdao, the joint venture was last June declared to have passed all the legal, technical and financial conditions set by the bids and awards committee.
Iturri then submitted the lowest bid for the project for just P978 million, or P260 million lower than the approved budget. Its bid was lower by P178.5 million from the P1.156 billion of the next lowest bidder.
On July 8, 2013, however, Iturri was disqualified by the bidding committee supposedly after finding that it had failed to comply with the requirement that the chassis of its fire trucks should be noncommercial.
The bidding committee apparently overturned the recommendation of the technical working group, which had deliberated on the bids for more than one month and unanimously recommended that the project be awarded to Iturri, Nicdao said.
“The sudden resort to too much technicality by the BAC in determining what a ‘noncommercial’ chassis is, is baffling, if not outright whimsical,” the complaint said.
“It was as if the definition was stretched too much, if only so that the Iturri fire truck chassis would be deemed as commercial,” it said.
Iturri appealed the disqualification and presented certificates from the Spanish government and other international agencies to prove to the committee that the chassis of their truck was not commercial.
In fact, it claimed to have been awarded contracts of this kind not just in Spain but also in the United Kingdom where it delivered the same noncommercial fire trucks it was offering the CAAP.