Solon seeks amendment of Government Procurement Reform Act
A lawmaker has sought the amendment of Republic Act 9184, otherwise known as the Government Procurement Reform Act, to penalize the presence of unauthorized persons acting as observers during the bidding process and do away with the post-qualification evaluation which can disqualify winning bidders for the flimsiest reasons in order to favor a losing bidder.
Rep. Angelo Palmones (Party-list, Agham) sought the amendment of RA 9184 through House Bill 6612 in light of continued irregularities in the bidding process which he said defeat the objectives of the law namely to promote transparency, competitiveness and standardization of the government procurement process.
Only recently, Palmones said the guns procurement by the Philippine National Police came under scrutiny by the Senate Committee on Peace and Security. Among the issues that surfaced during the inquiry is the alleged attendance of persons as observers during the bidding process despite the fact that there is specific definition of who are observers under Section 13 of RA 9184 according to Palmones.
“The purpose of the specification of observers under RA 9184 is to reduce, if not entirely eliminate, undue influence on the procurement process by various interested parties,” he said.
Palmones, a Vice Chairman of the House Committee on Science and Technology, said RA 9184 does not penalize violation of the provision on observers. “To eliminate violations of this provision, the violations should be penalized,” he said.
He said another instance where transparency in the bidding process is violated is in the Post Qualification of bids. “Winning bidders can be disqualified for the flimsiest reasons even after submitting the winning bid in order to favor a losing bidder,” he said.
To eliminate this problem, Palmones said bidders should have qualified with all the requirements and conditions even before the bids are opened.
“This way, a winning bidder would have satisfied all requirements and need not undergo a post-qualification evaluation and validation,” he said.
In HB 6612, Palmones proposed the amendment of Section 65 of RA 9184 so that it shall be considered an offense when the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) allows observers outside of those allowed in Section 13 of RA 9184, and when a person or persons are allowed to attend as observer or observers without the necessary qualifications as provided in Section 13 of RA 9184.
Public officers and private individuals who commit any of these offenses shall be penalized with imprisonment of six years and one day, to 15 years.
Presently, Section 13 of RA 9184 on Observers provides “To enhance the transparency of the process, the BAC shall, in all stages of the procurement process, invite, in addition to the representative of the Commission on Audit, at least two observers to sit in its proceedings, one from a duly recognized private group in a sector or discipline relevant to the procurement at hand, and the other from a non-government organization: Provided, however, That they do not have any direct or indirect interest in the contract to be bid out. The observers should be duly registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission and should meet the criteria for observers as set forth in the Implementing Rules and Regulations.
The bill also seeks the amendment of Section 32 of RA 9184 so that for the Procurement of Goods and Infrastructure Projects and prior to the evaluation of the financial components of the bids, the BAC shall evaluate all the requirements and conditions necessary to effect a contract of all bidders to eliminate the necessity of conducting a Post-Qualification Evaluation.
Before the opening of the bids, bidders shall have satisfied all the requirements for a contract. Should there be any tests to be made; the bill provides they shall be done as part of the prequalification prior to bidding. Track records of bidders shall solely be based on the bidders’ participation and not of mother companies. For joint ventures, their track record shall be based on their individual or joint records and not on mother companies or any third party track record.
The bill also provides the bidders’ paid-up capital should not be less than 40 percent of the total value of the contract.
The measure also seeks the amendment of Section 33 of RA 9184 so that for the Procurement of Consulting Services, the BAC shall evaluate all the requirements necessary to effect a contract of all bidders to eliminate the necessity of conducting a Post-Qualification Evaluation. Before the bids opening, all bidders shall have satisfied all the requirements for a contract.
The bill also proposed the amendment of Section 34 of RA 9184 so that for Post-Qualification, since prior to the opening of the bid documents, all the qualified bidders have already satisfied the requirements and conditions as specified in the bidding documents, hence, there is no need for a post-qualification or verification and validation of the bidders.
House Bill 6612 has been referred to the House Committee on Appropriations chaired by Rep. Jocelyn Limkaichong (1st District, Negros Oriental).