POSTSCRIPT / March 19, 2009 / Thursday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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A Pinay just gave 'rape' a bad name

QUESTIONS: Somebody just gave “rape” a bad name. And that has raised some questions in some people’s minds, viz:

Next time a Filipina claims to have been raped by a visiting foreign soldier, will anybody rally behind her?

Is P100,000 for an hour or two of fun-in-a-van too much, too cheap or just right?

If any embassy opens a window for female applicants willing to, huh, exchange their honor for a visa, will a line form?

Nagtatanong lang po.

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GOING TO THE DOGS: I feel drained seeing that a justice whose integrity I have always doubted is a top contender for the vacancy left by SC Associate Justice Adolfo Azcuna, who has retired.

Years ago the University of the East gave out Outstanding Alumni awards to several graduates, including me and this justice (then a Regional Trial Court judge).

When I learned that that judge was among the awardees, I wrote the UE alumni office that I could not stand on the same stage with the judge whom I personally knew to be not upright. I did not attend the awards ceremony, but I understand he did.

My disenchantment with that judge (now a justice) arose from his interfering in a suit we had filed against his relatives in Pasay City. He was using his fraternal ties and influence over his fellow judge in maneuvering the case to favor his relatives.

At the same time, I complained to the Supreme Court about his conduct as a judge-influence peddler, but I never knew what happened to my complaint.

Now I heard he is favored for appointment to the High Court because of his connections and his PR efforts. I now stand aside helplessly watching the judiciary going to the dogs.

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ANOTHER ONE: The Senate is again astir with talk of another scam, this time involving the procurement of heavy equipment and machinery for National Irrigation Administration farm projects. The outlay for the project is P1,423,700,000.

The gist of the new scandal is that the bidding for equipment and machinery was manipulated to eliminate two strong bidders to favor two smaller suppliers, and reap an alleged overprice of P300 million.

With the Legacy stink still in the air, Sen. Mar Roxas has delivered a privilege speech denouncing the NIA procurement. He said it looked like a repeat of the 2004 fertilizer scam that allegedly saw part of a P728-million outlay diverted to election campaigning.

Irrigation officials said there was nothing wrong as they have not awarded the contract to two “winning” suppliers in a bidding that Roxas said was “tainted with anomalies” right from the start.

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RIGGING?: Seeing what looked like a P300-million overprice, Roxas said the government’s procurement system must be reviewed to prevent a repeat of the fertilizer fund scam and the use of irrigation money for the 2010 presidential elections.

He said the NIA attempted to award last Jan. 16 the contract to two bidders that “obviously enjoyed backing from influential people in the government.”

Seeking an inquiry into the limiting of the number of bidders, Roxas denounced the rushing of the submission of bids and the sending of erroneous invitations to suppliers who appeared to have been marked for early elimination. Deadlines kept changing.

He also noted that the bid invitations said the NIA needed agricultural equipment when what were needed were heavy machines.

The planned purchase involved 139 hydraulic excavators, crawler type 0.80 cubic meter capacity; 69 hydraulic excavators, crawler type 0.50 cubic meter capacity; and 15 truck tractors with trailer for the repair of irrigation and drainage canals nationwide.

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FAVORITISM?: The pre-bid confusion, Roxas said, was obviously intended to leave out the market’s top two heavy machinery suppliers and enable the smaller ones, Civic Merchandising Inc. and the Transport Equipment Corp., to bag the contract.

He noted that these two small suppliers had failed to meet the total sales requirement stipulated in the NIA bidding rules for the project.

Top two heavy equipment distributors (70 percent of market share) were thus eliminated at the pre-qualification stage, even if their bid prices were more competitive.

Maxima Machineries Inc., No. 1 in the industry, was able to meet the deadline, but was disqualified purportedly because of incorrect documents. Monark Equipment Corp. (No. 2 in the industry) was disqualified at the onset because there was confusion on the deadline for the purchase of bid documents.

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RULES CHANGED: The NIA invited bidders to supply hydraulic excavators and truck tractors with trailers for its RIDC (Restoration of Irrigation and Drainage Canal) project.

Seven companies submitted letters of intent: Civic Merchandising Inc., International Heavy Equipment Corp. (IHEC), Maxima Machineries Inc. (MMI), Transport Equipment Corp. (TEC), Wilan Merchandising Phils., Transtar Corp., International Heavy Equipment Corp., and TKC Heavy Industries Corp.

However, the NIA later issued new requirements in its bidding rules, which disqualified two distributors — Monark (Caterpillar) and Maxima (Komatsu).

Under the bid data sheet, a bidder should have been engaged in the business for at least 25 years and a holder of exclusive distributorship for at least 10 years.

Monark has been in the heavy equipments distributorship business for 21 years and Maxima for 20 years. The smaller firms reportedly favored to take the contract do not have a competitive track record.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of March 19, 2009)

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