CONTRACTORS were upset over cash advances they have paid for the P75-billion infrastructure projects inserted in the 2019 budget.
House appropriations committee chairman Rolando Andaya Jr. claimed that several contractors have already paid “commissions” in advance for the infrastructure projects that were bid out before the ratification of the 2019 national budget.
Andaya said there are several infrastructure projects inserted by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), under the leadership of Secretary Benjamin Diokno, in the National Expenditure Program (NEP) amounting to P75 billion.
However, during the bicameral committee meeting, members of the House and Senate realigned the P75 billion.
“This is the problem that gives Sec. Ben Diokno and his co-conspirators in the P75-billion insertion sleepless nights. They had to appease favored contractors who advanced billions of pesos in commissions even before winning the bidding of the DPWH projects. Their only choice: restore the P75-billion insertion through a veto message,” Andaya said.
“The amount of commission asked by proponents ranges from 10 percent to 20 percent per project, according to my sources.” The lawmaker said.
These projects had already been bid out and ready for awarding to the favored contractors once the President signs the 2019 national budget, he said.
This was confirmed by Department of Public Works ad Highways (DPWH) Usec. Ma. Catalina Cabral during her sworn testimony at the House hearing on budget irregularities, according to Andaya.
“Ang problema rito, malabo nang makuha ng mga nanalong bidders ang mga proyektong kasama sa P75-billion insertion. Nauwi sa bula ang mga proyektong binayaran nila through cash advance,” Andaya said.
“What I heard, these favored contractors have two choices: renegotiate for new batch of infrastructure projects or compel the project proponents to return the cash advance in full. Kung hindi isasauli ang pera, puwedeng manganib ang buhay ng suwapang na project proponent,” he added.
Andaya also said he heard one project proponent, a high-ranking government official, who had to return his P200-million cash advance in full to a group of Mindanao-based contractors for fear of his life.
“Mukhang mas mahal pa rin ng opisyal ang buhay niya kaysa sa komisyon,” he stressed.
In the previous hearing, Sec. Diokno’s Chief of Staff DBM Undersecretary Amenah Pangandaman was identified as the government official who gave direct orders to insert P75-billion infrastructure projects in the DPWH budget without consultation with DPWH Secretary Mark Villar.
Andaya said Usec. Pangandaman was named by Engr. Glenn Degal, a senior programmer assigned at the DPWH-Planning Service.
Andaya pointed out that these two, Usec. Pangandaman and Engr. Degal, whom he called “fixers” were directly responsible for generating and eventually encoding the unvetted DPWH projects in the NEP in the wee hours of July 12, 2018.