MANILA, Philippines - Two contractors involved in anomalous renovations at the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP) in Muntinlupa City face criminal charges for allegedly colluding with prison officials on the P1.4-million project completed early this year.
A Department of Justice (DOJ) fact-finding panel formed to investigate allegations of corruption at the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) recommended that Grand Potential Press Inc. and Dotgain Solutions Inc. be subjected to preliminary investigation for allegedly violating a provision of the government procurement law (Republic Act 9184) stating that “when any of the prohibited acts is done in collusion with private individuals, the private individuals shall likewise be liable for the offense.”
The panel named these individuals as Grand Potential Press Inc. incorporators as Alman Madrid, Lawrence Balolong, Julita Balolong, Alex del Rosario and Alicia Madrid. For Dotgain Solutions, the incorporators are Nelson Lee Cheng, Gina Realope Rebancos, Paulino Fernandez, Jr., Alman Madrid and Julita Balolong.
The panel also made the same recommendation for BuCor chief Gaudencio Pangilinan, consultant and chief of staff Venancio Santidad, bids and awards committee chairman Alfredo Benitez, vice chair Dr. Ernesto Tamayo and members Elsa Alabado, Celso Bravo and Nora Corazon Palermos.
Pangilinan and the six officials should also be investigated for allegedly violating Article 208 of the Revised Penal Code (dereliction of duty), Section 3 of Republic Act 3019 (anti-graft and corrupt practices law) and RA 6713 (code of conduct and ethical standards for public officials and employees).
Among the “most striking” of the anomalies are the male and female restrooms at the ground floor of the NBP administration building, which the panel said had “amenities comparable to five-star hotels” and made the restrooms in Malacañang and the Department of Justice “pale in comparison.”
The renovation of these restrooms – which did not undergo public bidding – cost at least P800,000, the panel said.
The fact-finding panel is composed of Muntinlupa City Prosecutor Edward Togonon, state counsel Berlin Berba, and National Bureau of Investigation anti-graft chief Rachel Marfil Angeles.
In a 99-page report dated April 9, a copy of which was obtained by The STAR, the panel found that the companies awarded with several projects under the “small value procurement” are new firms without known qualifications as technically, legally and financially capable suppliers, as required under negotiated procurements.
The panel alleged that BuCor officials and the private firms’ executives colluded in making it appear that the projects they have undertaken were under the so-called small value procurement process to skirt the procurement law and do away with public bidding. The project can fall under the process if its cost is under P500,000.
“If the mother agency sets a high standard of transparency by requiring public bidding, attached agencies should follow. After all, what is good for the goose is good for the gander,” the report added. The BuCor’s mother agency is the DOJ.
The panel noted that under Pangilinan’s leadership, the BuCor had completed 193 projects or purchases worth P58.7 million using the small value procurement method in a span of seven months since he assumed office in July 2011.
According to the panel’s report, BuCor apparently allowed Grand Potential and another firm, Myoho Renge Copy, Inc., “to qualify and undertake projects without regard to the companies’ background or track record.” Grand Potential, though incorporated in 2005, has a subscribed capital stock of P250,000 and paid-up capital of P62,500.
Common incorporators, directors
Upon checking corporate records with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the panel found that Dotgain, Grand Potential and Myoho – which also snagged some projects – have common incorporators and directors.
Paulino Fernandez Jr. is an incorporator and director of Myoho and Dotgain, while Julita Balolong and Alman Madrid are also incorporators and directors of Grand Potential and Dotgain.
“This fact of having same directors of different companies engaged in the same kind of business bolsters the conclusion that they are not really competitors and they are actually preferred suppliers of the BuCor to implement projects which did not go through competitive public bidding,” the report stated.
The panel also highlighted that the three companies have the same principal purpose of engaging in the business of printing and publication, and have resorted to amending their secondary purpose to include the construction business, among others.
The panel found out that Grand Potential secured projects from BuCor worth P3.6 million from November 2011 to January this year: P487,000 to repair the visitor’s kubol at the maximum security compound; P480,000 to install a heavy-duty double latch for the steel gates at the maximum security compound; P482,500 for the repair of the visitors’ kubol at the same compound; and P434,876 for the repair of the male restroom at the ground floor of the NBP administration building.
Dotgain, although incorporated only in April 2011, received projects worth P5.8 million: P450,000 as rent for a tent used in an event; P488,996 to repair the receiving area at Building 14; and P493,080 to repair the ceiling, doors, windows and flooring at the left-wing display area of the administration building.
Myoho, primarily engaged in the printing business, has no legal basis to qualify as a supplier of P300,000 worth of mountain bikes, the panel said. - By Christina Mendez