House probe into BFP fire truck procurement bidding process sought

House probe into BFP fire truck procurement bidding process sought


December 19, 2022 | 2:11pm

MANILA, Philippines — Lawmakers of the progressive Makabayan bloc are urging the House of Representatives to conduct a legislative probe into what they said were the “restrictive and questionable” fire truck procurement bidding process of the Bureau of Fire Protection.

In filing House Joint Resolution 15, the Makabayan bloc claimed that the “BFP has imposed restrictions in its published Bidding Documents that effectively ‘tailored-fit’ the process to favored suppliers.” As a result, since November 2018, contracts have been disproportionately awarded to two joint venture entities: the Davao-based JROG Marketing and F. Cura Industries.

“These restrictive BFP bidding processes have possibly given undue advantages to favored suppliers and possibly prejudiced, not only other competent suppliers but also the public and the government in general,” the lawmakers said. 

“Clearly, when the bidding process is subject to collusion by the procuring entities and some parties, genuine free and open competition as mandated by law is impossible. The resulting corrupting effect is gravely disadvantageous to the government, which is now already saddled with huge budget deficits and a heavy debt burden.”

Most recently, a family of 10, including a five-month-old baby, died when a fire broke out at a residential area in Muntinlupa City over the weekend. 

Limitation on bidders

One restriction, the lawmakers said, is limiting qualified bidders to those engaged in the manufacture or assembly of fire trucks for at least 15 years in the Philippines before the opening of bidding. The last process allowed even those engaged in the sale and supply to participate. 

“The participation of bidders are clearly limited only to manufacturers and assemblers of fire trucks, excluding those that can only directly sell or supply. This scenario effectively leaves only one or two bidders that may qualify,” the resolution reads.   

“Available records and documents would show that since there is yet no fire truck manufacturer in the Philippines that can possibly comply with the BFP requirements and technical specifications. Fire trucks procured by the government in the past were provided by foreign manufacturers or suppliers.” 

Under the BFP Modernization Act, the fire protection bureau receives a sizable portion of the national budget to provide for the “augmentation of the country’s firefighting capabilities through procurement of equipment like fire trucks.” 

The same law signed in 2021 by then-President Rodrigo Duterte made headlines after it also included a provision to allow firemen to carry firearms to address possible criminal activities while responding to fires.

At an earlier Senate hearing in October, BFP chief Louie Puracan said the BFP has about 400 fire trucks that are 40 years old or older.

“The BFP has billions of funds to buy modern fire trucks, but even the procurement here is corrupt and suppliers are favored. This is infuriating because the people’s money is being used in this anomaly and the lives of our countrymen are at stake,” House Deputy Minority Leader France Castro (ACT Teachers Party-List) said.

“It should be transparent in its bidding and make the bidding documents public so this issue should also be investigated.” — Franco Luna 


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