By Genalyn Kabiling
Fed up with the “hocus-pocus” and other corrupt practices in government projects, President Rodrigo Duterte is exploring an alternative method of procurement, Malacañang said Sunday.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said the President prefers the Swiss challenge system in carrying out big-ticket government projects instead of the lowest-bid rule that has become a source of corruption in government.
“The President has had it with the continuous corruption in government contracts. Please remember that the President for almost three decades was a mayor…was a three-term congressman. Alam naman niya iyong hocus-pocus na nangyayari diyan sa mga government bidding na ‘yan (he knows the hocus-pocus that happens in government biddings),” Roque said during a press conference in Iloilo City.
“Sa totoo lang kaya may ‘tongpats’, kasi wala namang honest-to-goodness bidding na nangyayari. Kasi kung talagang may lowest bidder diyan, walang kita (In fact, there is only commission because there is no honest-to-goodness bidding happening. If there is a lowest bidder, there is no profit),” he added.
Unsolicited proposals from infrastructure investors are subject to Swiss challenge procedure wherein others are allowed to match or exceed the proposal. The contract will be awarded to the bidder with the best offer.
The government’s procurement law, on the other hand, mandates public bidding for goods and services. The lowest bidder usually gets the contract.
The President earlier said he wanted all government projects to undergo the Swiss challenge method. He said such procurement method was acceptable to the honest officials in government.
Duterte also expressed dismay at unscrupulous contractors who rig the bidding process for government projects and bribe officials to win the contract.
“Hindi naman niya matanggal lahat talaga iyong korapsyon diyan overnight (He can’t eradicate corruption overnight) so he’s now exploring alternatives and one alternative nga is unsolicited bids for projects which is subject to Swiss Challenge,” Roque said.
Roque said the President will likely push for amendments to the government procurement law to remove the lowest-bid rule.
“We have a law that enables us to have unsolicited proposals subject to Swiss challenge. And of course, the Government Procurement Act still provides for competitive biddings. So let’s just say the President now is exploring an alternative that is also lawful,” he said.
“And if it proves to be better than the current system, he will move at the right time for the law to be amended… the government procurement law to be amended,” he said.