"How true are these allegations against the Quezon City mayor?"
As supporters of Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte continue to defend the embattled mayor against allegations of corruption in relation to the city government’s procurement of supplies for its COVID-19 response, Anakalusugan Rep. Michael “Idol Mike” Defensor aired a challenge which could ultimately break the seemingly impenetrable fortress they have built around the local chief executive.
Defensor said he would not only quit politics permanently if the P690-million worth of pandemic food packs procured by the Quezon City government were not overpriced, but will also support Belmonte’s reelection bid in the May 2022 elections.
To date, Belmonte has yet to answer the issues involved in the two batches of procurement and has instead resorted to questioning Defensor’s motive in exposing the irregularities.
“How much did they purchase the goods included in the food packages, and how much were the prevailing prices of these items? What was the process of award to the suppliers? Why did Mayor Belmonte split the procurements in violation of auditing rules? These are some of the questions she is evading to answer,” Idol Mike stressed.
Based on documents Defensor presented to the media which he said was given to him by city hall insiders, the lawmaker said Belmonte signed two purchase orders for the procurement of a total of 600,000 food packs intended for poor city residents reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic.
One PO, dated Nov. 23, 2020, was issued to LXS Trading, with address at 1210 Suntrust Capital Plaza, Matalino St., Central, Quezon City for the supply of 250,000 food packages at P1,149.98 each, for a total price of P287,475,000.
The other PO, which does not indicate a date, was issued to Thyme General Merchandise of 32 Batay St., Cubao, for 350,000 packs also at P1,149.98 each, for a total of P402.5 million.
But based on a price canvass made by his staff, Defensor said he found out that each food bag cost only P636, or an excess of P513.98. He estimated that the total overprice for the two procurements amounted to P308 million.
He said the priciest item in the package in the two separate procurements was rice, consisting of five kilos worth P200.
He said the other items included small cans of meat products, spaghetti noodles and sauce, cheese, and milk.
Aside from the excessive price, Defensor raised the issue of splitting of the two batches of purchases.
According to Defensor, the Commission on Audit prohibits this kind of procurement because it does not obtain the best price for the government.
“The COA auditor assigned in Quezon City should not have allowed the splitting,” Defensor pointed out.
The odd thing, Defensor said, is that despite being bought in two separate batches, they both were priced the same at P1,149.98 per food pack which seems highly irregular.
“Who were these suppliers and who were behind them? Was it just a coincidence that they offered the same price? Or was the price dictated to them?” the solon asked.
Well, maybe if Belmonte really believes there is no irregularity in the procurement of the food packs and the face shield and disinfectant sprays which Defensor also bared, maybe she should reciprocate the lawmaker’s dare by offering to quit if ever the allegations against her are proven to be valid.
More on Mayor Joy Belmonte.
How true is it that a female editor from a leading daily gave the leader of a political party supporting former Senator Bongbong Marcos’ presidential bid in 2022 and offered prominent placement of every news concerning Marcos in their paper in exchange for his support for Belmonte?
This was after Marcos met with the Malayang Quezon City group led by Bingbong Crisologo, Mike Defensor and Winnie Castelo to contribute “ayuda” to the efforts of the group in helping out the poor communities and also to show his solidarity with the group in the coming 2022 elections.
It then turned out Atty. Vic Rodriguez, Marcos’ lawyer and campaign manager, joined the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas, which reportedly alarmed Belmonte.
According to a PFP insider, Belmonte first asked for a meeting with Governor Rey Tamayo, party president, to ensure that she remains their candidate, as she was in the past 2019 elections.
Tamayo reportedly made no commitment as he was also aware that Marcos had to be protected as the standard bearer of the party.
The “interesting” part of the story was when an editor of one of the country’s leading newspapers, allegedly called on behalf of the company president to strike a deal, ensuring they would promote Marcos in their paper as long as Belmonte remains as the PFP candidate.
They reportedly even gave an “express email address” that would reach the “top” for their stories to be given maximum exposure.
I asked a friend who is close to the media officer of the owner of the said paper for some reaction to the issue. As of this writing, I haven’t received any feedback yet.
I’ll write on this issue as I get more information.