The chairman of House committee on appropriations said Wednesday criminal charges may be filed in connection with the allegedly rigged bidding for P1 billion worth of public works projects won by a contractor that was said to be favored by Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno.
Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr., who heads the appropriations panel, said C.T. Leoncio Trading and Construction could be charged for altering bid documents at the last minute to show it did not have the lowest bid as a way of fending off suspicion.
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“This alteration of official documents is a serious criminal offense,” Andaya said. “We will try to unmask who may be held criminally liable for this when the House investigating panel resumes its probe on DBM [Department of Budget and Management] anomalies next month.”
At the same time, Andaya dismissed as “fake news” Diokno’s allegation that early procurement activities started under Andaya’s term as Budget secretary.
“There is no truth to that allegation. It’s fake news During my time, there were no biddings and awards prior to the effectivity of the General Appropriations Act. Such activities commenced only after the enactment of the national budget,” Andaya said.
“We are fed up with Secretary Diokno’s lies and evasive antics. He better explains [his actions] before the court,” Andaya added.
Andaya said the infrastructure projects are under the Department of Public Works and Highways in Sorsogon and Catanduanes contained in the proposed 2019 P3.757-trillion National Expenditure Program prepared by Diokno’s Budget department.
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But he said the result of the bidding was altered at the last minute to show that contractors other than C.T. Leoncio submitted the lowest bid.
Diokno has consistently denied all the allegations leveled against him.
Citing DPWH documents submitted to Andaya, the appropriations chairman said C.T. Leoncio submitted the lowest bid amounting to P988,560,855 for 14 projects in Sorsogon and Catanduanes under the 2019 national budget.
But a new list submitted by DPWH last Tuesday showed that C.T. Leoncio did not win any bidding for Sorsogon projects, he said.
Andaya recalled that the early bidding of new DPWH projects for 2019 was made possible with Diokno’s Circular Letter 2018-8 dated July 30, 2018, which prescribes the “Guidelines on the Conduct of Early Procurement for the Fiscal Year [FY] 2019 National Expenditure Program [NEP].”
Under these guidelines, Andaya said Diokno allegedly instructed all heads of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government to “undertake early procurement activities from October to December 2018, upon the submission of the FY 2019 NEP to Congress.”
Andaya said these activities include pre-procurement conference until post-qualification of bids and recommendation by the Bids and Awards Committees to award the contract to the winning bidder.
This Diokno circular eventually allowed the DPWH regional offices and district engineering offices to conduct bidding activities for the P75 billion infrastructure projects inserted in the NEP, Andaya said.
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