Malaybalay to terminate contract with market builder

The extension ends in July this year. City Engineer Teodocio Pabillaran said the firm is already “off” the schedule.

The firm is supposed to finish within the extended time the whole project, including the integrated terminal and the commercial complex adjacent to the public market.

Based on the slippage alone, Flores said, the city government can already take action against the firm.

“It is up for the legal office to determine liabilities,” he said.

Vice Mayor Ignacio W. Zubiri said he is for the termination of the proposed project but stressed “it should be settled amicably, with no party suing another”.

Zubiri said it is now time to cut since the firm can’t definitely finish the two other components in four months.

The project, originally contracted for 540 days, began on August 15, 2005 and should have been completed on February 5, 2007.

But the project had to go through Commission on Audit proceedings over issues on validity and mode of payment, among others.

The project was first extended from February to July 2007. In July 2007, the COA Legal and Adjudication Office considered the contract void, which the firm appealed in September that year. Construction was stopped in September 2007, according to City Engineer Teodocio Pabillaran but H.R. Lopez Co.,Inc. said they stopped in November 2007.

On July 3, 2008, the COA Legal and Adjudication Sector declared no legal impediments to the validity of the contract prompting the firm to request for the nine-month extension since “they are ready to complete the balance of work.”

Flores endorsed the request to the City Council on August 1, 2008 and the city council approved the extension three months later, on October 21. But councilors noted that the firm resumed construction on August 15, even without the approval.

“I believe dili na nila kaya (they can’t do it anymore),” Zubiri said citing “possibly the firm has internal problems affecting its performance.” 

He said it is certain the firm could not finish in four months the two remaining components.

If we do so, Zubiri said, at least the city can move forward. “We can rebid and start again for the remaining components,” he said.

Zubiri explained that the P250-loan acquired for the project will incur interest when money is withdrawn.  He said rules might allow another chance for extension if the firm asked for it.

“But I prefer termination,” he said.

The H.R. Lopez management could not be reached for comment. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)