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Diokno says bidding for ASEAN management contract above board

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno on Tuesday insisted that the government complied with the bidding requirements when Stagecraft International was selected to manage the events for the 2017 ASEAN Summit, in light of complaints that there was a shortcut in the bidding process.

The Philippines holds the ASEAN chairmanship this year. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a 10-member bloc that counts Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam as members.

Only Stagecraft International made a bid for the project and the complainant, EON, failed to submit a bid, Diokno said during a press briefing in Malacañang,

"A project which is part of the 15 billion allocation for that has been bided out, but we complied with all the steps, okay. Now, only one submitted a bid. This is the same bidder who won the right to provide the service for the 2015 APEC," he said.

The Philippines hosted the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in November 2015, with Ambassador Marciano Paynor as director general of the National Organizing Council. Paynor is now the chief protocol officer of Malacañang.

"Now, EON did not even submit a bid. So I’m surprised that he’s now complaining. And he cannot really comply with... because the kind of services that he is providing is very limited," he added.

Diokno also revealed that the bidder priced the contract P1 billion, which is much lower than the P2.9-billion allocation.

"The total budget for that service that was bid out was 2.9 billion. You know how much the winning bidder bid? 1 billion. Ayaw pa ba natin ‘yun? 2.9 nga ‘yung estimate ni Ambassador Paynor. Ito nag-bid siya ng 1 billion, and the same bid that he submitted two years ago for the APEC," he said.

The Budget chief noted that even with a single qualified bidder for the goods and technical services for the summit, the bidding was a success.
"There’s a one qualifying bid – that’s valid – hindi failure ‘yun," he said.

EON, a smaller company, wanted to break up the bid into five categories, according to the Cabinet official.

"Ang point ‘nong EON, which is a smaller company, is dapat brineak up into five para mag-qualify siya doon sa isa, sa technical, kasi ano naman ‘yon eh, parang party provider lang siya – ‘Di ba? – ganoon," he said.

"Ang may ayaw ‘yung si Ambassador Paynor, kasi he doesn’t want to talk to five people ... Isa lang dapat. Kasi kung ibe-break up mo ‘yung contract, you break it up into five small projects, magku-qualify ‘yung EON doon sa one of the five, Diokno noted.

"Kasi we’re running out of time already, napaka-ano na ‘yung schedule, ngayon na, mangyayari na ‘yan ngayon. There will be a meeting na sometime January. There’s really a sense of urgency," he added. — VS, GMA News