DADS CAUGHT FLATFOOTED
While the Dagupan City Sanggunian slept, the city administrator conducted a bidding four months ago without any authorization from it and went on to award a 25-year lease contract for a public property fronting the city hall to a local developer.
But Councilor Alex de Venecia, chairman of the city council’s committee on trade and industry, has manifested his objection to it citing the irregular process, the manner with which the bidding was conducted and the unexpired lease on the area during a stormy special session last Tuesday.
According to him, many of the city councilors were evidently kept in the dark until they were asked to pass three draft resolutions submitted by the mayor’s office.
The council was asked to authorize the city mayor to look for a qualified developer for the city property that used to be occupied by the Bugnay market another authorizing the city mayor to enter into a contract, and finally a resolution that will endorse the award of lease contract to Metrostate Realty Corporation, the winner in a supposed special public bidding held July 11, 2006.
The draft resolution presented to the council specifies a lease contract that obligates the corporation to pay P1 million to the city each year for 25 years for the right to build a two-storey commercial building under the Build-Operate-Transfer scheme on the property.
The proposed resolutions were authored by Councilors Vlad Mata and Nicanor Aquino.
Aside from the Metrostate Realty headed by Arch. Mark Joseph Siapno, there were reportedly two other bidders who participated in the bidding but the two were allegedly disqualified for not having met the criteria, but no other details were provided.
“I learned that there were three bidders and two were disqualified, Diyan ako natatakot na baka balikan kami at i-report sa Ombudsman,” De Venecia said.
De Venecia pointed out that while he has all the respect for the Siapno family that won in the special public bidding conducted by the city’s Pre-qualification Bids and Awards Committee (PBAC) presided over by City Administrator Rafael Baraan, he lamented that the awarding was marked by an irregular process.
He maintained that the legal procedures should have been observed to avoid being charged for graft and that an approval at this stage would make all the councilors liable.
He pointed out that there was no prior resolution enacted by the city council authorizing Mayor Benjamin Lim to negotiate with any private group that will lease the city-owned property for any period of time and for a set of terms.
De Venecia also wondered why the property once occupied by the Bugnay Market was already leased to another corporation when the existing lease contract between the city and Bugnay Development Corporation headed by Don Manolo Lim is not due to expire until 2007.
Maintaining that the city could not lease the property until the existing lease expires, De Venecia refused to accept the position made by City Legal Officer Geraldine Baniqued that the property subject of lease was in fact under “constructive abandonment” by Bugnay.
Furthermore, de Venecia questioned why Councilors Mata and Luis Samson Jr. represented the city council as members of the PBAC in that special public bidding, when he, should have been the one invited to sit in that body being the chairman of the committee on trade and industry.
The councilor said he learned in that special session that the notice of public bidding over the same property was published by the PBAC in the national newspaper Manila Standard Today instead of the usual practice of a community paper based either in Dagupan City or elsewhere in the province.
De Venecia said no explanation was given why the bidding was held four months ago and yet the draft resolutions were only forwarded last Tuesday.
He added the office of the city mayor wanted the council to endorse the award immediately even if they were not given copies of the pre-bidding document, the bided contract and the terms and conditions of the same.
Baniqued refused to issue any statement to The PUNCH about the matter when interviewed in her office.