A House leader warned yesterday that world class fire truck manufacturers and dealers are expected to be excluded in public bidding for the purchase of P1.78 billion worth of fire trucks unless it is held in abeyance to allow revision of the specifications.
Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe, president of the 46-strong Party List Coalition (PLC), appealed to Interior and Local Government Sec. Eduardo M. Año not to push through with the public bidding.
In his letter to Año, Batocabe, a vice chairman of the House committee on good government and public accountability, said the conduct of the public bidding will also preempt the ongoing congressional inquiry into the government’s fire truck purchase program.
The House committee on good government has initiated the inquiry into the audit findings, disclosing that public bidding controversies have allegedly slowed down the Bureau of Fire Protection’s (BFP) fire truck procurement program.
He said BFP’s qualification requisites on prospective suppliers have been too restrictive and appeared to favor certain suppliers.
“We learned that assemblers of fire trucks popular for providing the best firefighting options are barred from participating because the specification requirements imposed by the BFP appear to be tailor-made for certain brands,” said Batocabe.
The lawmaker asked the BFP to present to the House panel the bases for imposing additional documentary requirements in the bidding such as certificates of exclusive distributorship and assembly and “additional documentary requirements submitted by previous supplier of existing fleet of fire trucks.”
According to Batocabe, the bidding requisites also compels supplier to submit a certification issued by the authorized local distributor and assembler that the cab and chassis manufacturer has been distributing spare parts in the last 15 years.
“If the additional documentary requirements are not considered, failure of bidding will most likely be the outcome in the conduct of public bidding for the procurement of fire trucks for the BFP,” said Batocabe as the BFP has rescheduled to rebid this week the procurement of 112 units of fire trucks with a total estimated cost of P1.78 billion.
The House committee on good government panel has set public hearing of its probe as soon as Congress sessions resume next month.
Batocabe filed House Resolution (HR) No. 2225 urging the committee to investigate, in aid of legislation the BFP’s continued failure to successfully procure fire trucks in the past four years notwithstanding the availability of government funding for the procurement program.
Based on the 2017 Commission on Audit (CoA) report on BFP, Batocabe said the country has around 2,350 serviceable fire trucks. Of this number, 1,094 were acquired between 1950 to 1999.
Batocabe said the Philippines should have at least 3,608 fire trucks based on the standard set by the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB).