Three suppliers bagged multi-million contracts for the delivery of rice and other relief goods, including hygiene kits, to the provincial government early this month.
It is claimed that the P10 million allocation for the purchase of 4,545 sacks of commercial rice was split by three business establishments after the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) directly negotiated with “legally, technically and financially capable” suppliers last April 14, 2020.
The allocation came from Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (LDRRM) Fund that was realigned by the Provincial DRRM Council through Resolution No. 201-2020 dated March 30, 2020.
It may be recalled that last March 9, the Government Procurement Policy Board (GPPB) simplified the government’s procurement process by allowing end-user departments or units to directly negotiate with a qualified supplier or contractor with regards to civil works, goods or lease contracts related to the six-month State of Calamity declared by President Rodrigo Duterte due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In GPPB Resolution No. 03-2020, all procuring entities from national agencies to local government units have been allowed to conduct procurement projects through Negotiated Procurement (Emergency Cases).
Included in the projects covered by this mode are goods, civil work projects as well as lease of real property or venues such as those used as quarantine centers, evacuation sites, medical relief and aid distribution locations, warehousing facilities, or similar temporary disaster or emergency response facility.
Documents show that the procurement was covered by Purchase Request No. 300-20-04-031 dated April 13, 2020, with a unit cost of P2,200 each 50-kilogram sack of well-milled commercial rice and a total cost of P10,000,000.00.
Virac Lucky Supermart with business address at Concepcion, Virac was awarded a P1.21-million contract to supply 550 sacks while Greenstone Enterprises owned by Rebecca Albaniel and based at San Roque, Virac was awarded the contract to supply 2,200 sacks for P4.84 million.
The third supplier, A3 General Merchandise in Rawis, Virac with Elvira Antonio as the listed proprietor, was given the P2.949-million contract to supply 1,795 bags of rice.
All three suppliers submitted the same quoted price of P2,200 per sack but for different quantities. It is not clear whether the BAC undertook a negotiation with any one of the three bidders to secure a lower price for the lone item being procured.
Section 54.1 of Republic Act 9184, or the Government Procurement Reform Act, does not allow the splitting of government contracts or the division or breaking up of contracts into smaller quantities and amounts.
Purchase orders approved by Acting Governor Shirley Abundo were issued to the three establishments a day later, on April 15, with the rice were supposed to be delivered within 15 calendar days.
According to one of the big rice traders in Virac, the price per sack of commercial rice being retailed at the time ranged from P1,600.00 to P1,800.00, already including the trader’s profit and hauling costs.
A3 General Merchandise was also the one which bagged a contract for P1,247,830.00 for the supply and delivery of hygiene kits, charged to the LDRRM Trust Fund and intended for distribution to 315 Barangay Health and Emergency Response Teams (BHERTs).
The trust fund came from unexpended cash donations received by the provincial government from various entities after past typhoons: P400,000.00 from the Davao City Government; P250,000.00 each from Manila Publishing and Don Emilio Yap; P250,000.00 from Global Caring Foundation; and, P100,000.00 from LBHP Virac.
Awarded to A3 General Merchandise under PR No. 300-20-03-028 for the “Supply and Delivery of Hygiene Kits” was the contract to deliver 700 liters of alcohol at a unit cost of P379.00, for a total of P265,300.00; 7,245 pieces of twin-pack toothpaste at P12 per pack for a total of P86,940.00; 7,245 liters of liquid bleach (disinfectant) at P60 per liter for a total of P434,700.00; 7,245 pieces of bath soap 80-grams at P42 per piece, for a total of P304,290.00; and, 6,264 pieces of toothbrush at P25 per piece, for a total of P156,600.00.
Aside from A3 General Merchandise, the other suppliers who submitted quotations on March 24, 2020 were identified as Virac Fortune Enterprises, which had a bid of P1,274,473.50, and Blue Line Marketing of Francia, Virac, with a quotation of P1,306,490.00, both in excess of the Approved Budget for the Contract (ABC) of P1,248,285.00.