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Firm denies ‘irregularities’ in DOH health stations project, hits Duque for allegation


The construction firm being linked to the allegedly anomalous contract for barangay health stations of the Department of Health (DOH) on Monday denied irregularities in the project.

In a statement, JBros Construction also called out DOH Secretary Francisco Duque for his "potentially libelous allegation" that the company "forged" documents related to the contract.

"This is a very serious and potentially libelous allegation and we dare Duque to prove this," it said.

In a press conference Tuesday last week, Duque blamed the previous DOH administration for irregularities in the P8.1-billion 2-phase Barangay Health Stations  (BHS) project.

He said out of 429 reported completed barangay health stations in the project's phase 1, only 270 were possibly completed. He also said there were documents lacking and possibly signatures forged.

Nothing libelous

 

Sought for comment, Duque said there is nothing libelous with what he said, adding he did not link JBros to the possibly fake document.

"Wala naman akong sinabi na 'yung false document galing sa JBros," he told GMA News Online by phone.

"Sinabi ko, this is the report to me of the task force of DOH I've created. According to them, the accounting office of DOH received the same pictures for different locations of purported barangay health stations," he said.

Terminated contract

JBros, an accredited government contractor, said it had terminated its contract with the DOH after the department "fail[ed] to provide all the sites for construction and refus[ed] to pay for the request for payment almost a year after it was first filed."

"Under the contract, and as earlier advertised by the Department when it invited bidders to bid for this project, it will ensure that within seven days from Notice to Proceed (NTP), all sites will be made available to the contractor to make it possible for the latter to complete the project within the provided contract period,” it said.

It said nearly three years since the bidding for the project in 2015, the sites were still not available, thus preventing the contractor from completing the project within the provided contract period of only 240 days.

Unpaid billings

Meanwhile, the company also disclosed that it had billed the DOH on May 15, 2017 and refiled it on August 1, 2017 for completed works worth over P1.1 billion, but the amount had remained unpaid more than one year since the first filing.

"Secretary Duque had already approved the payment as stated in an internal memoranda but the DOH still refused to release the payment, prompting the contractor to suspend the contract — a legally provided remedy — for fear of its accumulating operational and overhead expenses," JBros said.

"Realizing that the DOH consistently failed to comply with its fundamental obligations, setting up the contractor to fail and lose billions of its investments, JBros finally terminated the contract on March 13, 2018," it added.

"Excuses"

The barangay health station project was implemented under former Health chief Janette Garin with the goal of establishing 5,700 rural health units to ensure that barangays have access to primary health care.

The company questioned why Duque has revealed the issue to the public when the DOH itself never officially communicated to the company regarding any deficiencies in their progress billing except now, and only to the media after JBros submitted its Notice of Termination to the agency on March 13, 2018.

"These allegations are merely excuses which, nevertheless, fail to justify their nonpayment and lack of action on the progress billing for eight months,” JBros said.

It also clarified that while it received P1.2 billion in total mobilization payments for both contracts, its value of accomplishment far exceeded the amount.

“The total accomplishment consists of completed units, substantially and partially completed units, and completed foundation pads amounting to P1.1 billion for Phase 1 and P518.9 million in Phase 2," JBros said.

"For both contracts, the total accomplishment of the contractor was P2.1 billion versus a combined mobilization payment of P1.2 billion," JBros added.

The DOH has requested the Office of the Ombudsman to conduct a fact-finding probe on the matter.

Duque has blamed the previous administration over the alleged irregularities on the project. —with Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News