Senate junks ‘reimbursement’ to Tokyo firm

THE Senate has struck down P210.579-million allocation in the proposed 2011 budget supposedly meant to reimburse the service development cost incurred by a “bogus” Japanese consortium that won and later lost the right to develop the government’s Nampeidai property in Tokyo.

The Senate committee on finance chaired by Sen. Franklin Drilon slashed the amount from the P10.602 billion outlay of the Department of Finance (DOF), which is acting as the reimbursing agent on the bungled property development contract.

Senior panel vice-chairmen led by Sen. Ralph Recto believed that the reimbursement was premature and questionable since it would go a Japanese company which sued the government after submitting spurious bid documents to bag the development contract.

Recto said the government may have to rethink the reimbursement offer and better yet, await the final resolution of the case filed in Japanese courts.

The DOF inserted the reimbursement expense in its proposed budget, which is equivalent to 480-million yen, payable to Japan-based Nagayama-Taisei Consortium (NTC), representing the “service development fee” posted by the same consortium.

The “development fee” was originally pegged at P194 million when the yen was still cheaper two years ago.

The Senate finance committee presented the Senate’s version of the 2011 budget bill for plenary deliberations last week.

The Department of Justice (DOJ), then headed by acting Secretary Agnes Devanadera, said in her 2009 report on the issue that the Nagayama Taisei or NTC was a non-existing consortium.

NTC was purportedly a joint venture of two Japanese firms, Nagayama and Taisei Corp.

Devanadera said “what was established is that there is sufficient evidence to prove that the eligibility documents submitted to the BAC (Bids and Awards Committee) by the purported winning bidder are falsified.”

She said bid documents were “not properly notarized,” with Hector B. Centeno, who supposedly notarized the document, denying doing so in a May 22, 2009 affidavit.

Devanadera also said: “The signatures of the alleged representatives of (consortium member) Taisei Corp. are all forged.”

She said Taisei legal chief Shigeru Ikemoto informed the government’s BAC in June 2009 that Taisei did not participate in the bidding.

Former finance secretary Margarito Teves then informed NTC sometime June last year that the Nampeidai contract was being rescinded.

Teves nevertheless still endorsed the reimbursement of NTC’s “service development fee” and authorized then Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo and recently-recalled Ambassador to Japan Domingo Siazon to assure the Japanese firm about the refund.

Despite assurances on the refund, NTC still sued the government before Japanese courts for rescinding the contract. Dino Ng

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