The cruise port facility project in Puerto Princesa City. | Photo by the PPC Information Office

A lawmaker at the House of Representatives is calling for a congressional inquiry into the “untimely conduct” of public biddings on government ports, sea terminals, and ports facilities by the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) under its new terminal leasing and management rules and regulations.

Oriental Mindoro Rep. Alfonso Umali Jr. filed on June 1 House Resolution 1822, which urges the House Committees on Good Governance and Public Accountability and on Transportation to probe the public biddings, which he described as “grossly disadvantageous” to the government amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In the resolution, Umali identified five government ports as allegedly being awarded by PPA officials “to a favored corporate entity”.

The ports are Puerto Princesa Port, Ormoc Port, Tabaco Port, Legaspi Port, and Calapan Port.

Umali said the private entity posted only a minimum bid despite other qualified bidders who posted higher bids.

He noted that the government has been deprived an amount of PHP1.2 billion for the five ports alone.

The common allegation from Umali regarding the five ports is that the Philippine government had been deprived of huge sums of money due to the PPA’s choice of bidder, which usually didn’t even offer the highest bid for the projects.

“The officials of the PPA, taking advantage of their position and influence, have given unwarranted benefits, advantage, and preference to a single corporate entity through manifest partiality, collusion, and evident bad faith,” he said in the resolution.

Umali said the so-called “chosen few” big companies are primarily focused on the PPA bidding with an intention to “monopolize the management of the ports.”

“These big companies have already participated and awarded several ports [bade] out by the PPA as what occurred in the first eight biddings where five ports were awarded to a single corporate entity which posted online a minimum bid and whose net contracting capacity is inadequate to sustain long term operations,” he said.

He also pointed out that the bidding of the government ports in the middle of the pandemic and economic recession makes this action of the PPA “very untimely and highly questionable”. (PNA)

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