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BFP urged to review bidding for firetrucks

May 16, 2023 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 148 views

To avoid ‘irregularities’

A LAWMAKER on Tuesday urged the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) to review the terms of reference (TOR) and specifications in bidding out firetrucks to prevent allegations of irregularities in the agency’s procurement process.

Bicol Saro Party-list Representative Brian Raymund Yamsuan, a former Assistant Secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said conducting this review and initiating change within the BFP will also help to “finally end the perennial backlog” of firetrucks in the country.

“Panahon pa namin 2006 ng ako nasa DILG, hanggang ngayon, may backlog pa rin tayo. Bakit ‘di natin ma-resolve ‘yun? And at the same time, laging may ganitong issue, laging issue natin may overprice, laging issue natin may favored bidder. Dapat mawala na ‘yun. Magkaroon na tayo ng maayos na TOR sa lahat ng bagay, sa specs na susundan ng lahat ng suppliers,” Yamsuan told BFP Director Louie Puracan at the hearing conducted Tuesday by the House Committee on Public Order and Safety.

Through the committee chaired by Santa Rosa City Rep. Dan Fernandez, Yamsuan asked the BFP to submit documents listing and defining the functions of the units under the agency, the figures on its backlog on firetrucks, and its procurement plan for the current fiscal year.

The Fernandez-chaired panel held the hearing to continue its inquiry in aid of legislation on the BFP’s bidding process in procuring firetrucks.

The probe stemmed from House Resolution 724 filed by ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. France Castro, GABRIELA Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas, and Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raoul Danniel Manuel seeking an investigation into the alleged restrictive and questionable fire truck procurement process of the BFP in line with its modernization program.

Yamsuan said the BFP should help Congress in determining how the agency can improve its capabilities and efficiently carry out the provisions of Republic Act (RA) 11589 or the BFP Modernization Act.

“Kayo rin ‘yung magsisimula ng pagbabago diyan sa ahensiya niyo. You should initiate change. If you don’t change, walang mangyayari. Kawawa lang ‘yung mga kababayan natin, kawawa rin tayo. Reflection din sa atin ‘yan, ‘yung nangyayari sa inyo reflection sa amin sa gobyerno. Kasi if you don’t do good, we also don’t do good.

Kaya mas magandang maayos natin pareho ito,” Yamsuan said.

Among the other alleged irregularities questioned by lawmakers were the inclusion of the BFP of personal protective equipment (PPE) in its acquisition of firetrucks in some contracts and its omission in other similar deals, which was apparently why some suppliers were “shut out” in the bidding.

Puracan explained that omitting the PPEs in some of the contracts was the result of the BFP’s market study, which showed that its P15 million approved budget for the procurement would not be sufficient because of “price escalation.”

He said that before the price escalation, the BFP chose to include PPEs in its procurement so that the total approved budget for the contract (ABC) of P15 million would be fully used.

But Fernandez doubted that this was the case considering that the supposed price escalation of about P4 million claimed by the BFP happened in “a span of only seven months.”

To settle the issue, Yamsuan directed Puracan to submit to the committee the documents supporting its claim of “price escalation.”

Based on documents submitted to the panel, the BFP has procured 562 firetrucks valued at P7.2 billion since 2018.