CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 03 November) — Local contractors have been asked to take part in the rehabilitation and reconstruction projects in Marawi City’s Ground Zero but the Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) warned them against overpricing as there is no need to give grease money to government personnel.
“I would like to be very clear … wala pong SOP dito,” Housing Secretary and TFBM chair Eduardo del Rosario said at the Consultation Conference with Local Executives and Contractors on the “Implementation of the Different Housing and infrastructure Projects in the Most Affected Area” held at the Limketkai Luxe Hotel here late Tuesday afternoon, a few hours after the groundbreaking rites in neighboring Marawi City.
The groundbreaking marked the start of the rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts in Marawi’s 250-hectare, 24-barangay Ground Zero or the Most Affected Area (MAA).
“Most of you are used when dealing with government na may tinatawag na SOP” (literally Standard Operating Procedure but in this context refers to grease money) that is given to the implementing agency or whoever handles the documents but “dito po sa project natin sa Marawi, sabihin nyo sa amin ang tamang project cost dahil wala pong SOP dito” (tell us the correct project cost because there is no SOP here), he assured.
His announcement was greeted by applause by the audience of contractors, most of them from Lanao del Sur and Marawi City. The table setting was for 60 participants.
Del Rosario said he is aware of the practice of contractors overpricing the project cost to enable them to give grease money to corrupt officials and workers in the government agency implementing the project.
“Tanggalin nyo sa mindset dahil sa Marawi projects, walang SOP” (Remove that from your mindset because in the Marawi projects, there will be no SOP), del Rosario stressed.
He said whatever project cost is agreed upon by the contractor and the National Housing Authority (NHA), the implementing agency in the MAA projects, will be the exact amount that will be given.
“Huwag ninyong taasan ang offer… kung sinabing, 50 million, you will get 50 million” (Do not raise the offer. If it is 50 million, you will get 50 million), Del Rosario said.
“Ang SOP natin, kung anong project cost, you will get that amount,” he said.
Marcelino Escalada, General Manager of the National Housing Authority (NHA), the implementing agency for the MAA Rehabilitation project, reiterated contractors should not overprice because government knows the cost, having engaged “all our technical persons” through several negotiations at all levels.
“So just give us your offer then we will come to terms on the negotiation. At the end of the day, wala naman (there will be no SOP), everything goes back to people of Marawi and the people of Marawi deserve this kind of project that you have waited for a year already,” Escalada said.
“Masali sa lahat ng gagawin sa Marawi”
Lanao del Sur Vice Governor Mamintal Adiong, Jr., said contractors in Lanao del Sur and Marawi should participate in rebuilding Marawi especially because they suffered so much losses due to the five-month war last year.
“Gusto po namin na ang mga contractors ng Lanao del Sur ay masali sa lahat ng gagawin sa Marawi City … at dapat din po na makatulong sila sa pagrebuild ng Marawi City,” (What we want is that contractors in Lanao del Sur to be included in all the projects in Marawi City … and they should also help rebuild Marawi City), Adiong added.
Adiong, a civil engineer, had served as Provincial Engineer and later Provincial Governor of of Lanao del Sur. He had earlier served as chief executive officer of the family-owned construction firm but was reported to have divested his interests there.
Adiong urged contractors to cooperate and help government and to ensure they are all qualified and they have equipment.
Adiong asked what would happen if the land on which the buildings or road would be widened, is private property.
Del Rosario replied that they have included a provision in the budget to pay for those whose lands might be affected, adding the compensation “will be based on fair market value.”
“Walang gagawin yung gobyerno na hindi ma-compensate kung sino yung tatatamaan ng widening” (Government won’t do anything unless the affected owner is compensated), he said.
Bryan Pangarungan asked if the vertical projects will be built on government or private property.
Del Rosario said they would like to construct on government property but if there are some infrastructure that would require purchasing private land, such as the Grand Padian (central market) which would require a huge area and will be moved a bit from its original location, “we will purchase the lands.”
Escalada also assured contractors that “if and when financial requirements would be a constraint,” they go into joint venture agreements.
“You can have a joint venture agreement just to capacitate and to make the corporation into a joint venture corporation so that you will be able to tap the expertise of the others,” Escalada said, adding that “everything is open. That is why we said this is a negotiated contract. We want to negotiate with you at all levels, in the design, in the construction, in the payment as well as in the determination of the price.”
Escalada also said that in the construction of schools or barangay halls for instance, the base amount may be small but the total would be huge because of the quantity. He said they can enter into a “joint venture with somebody who has the financial capacity – tatlo kayo apat kayo – walang problema sa NHA. We will award the project to you.”
Joel Perez asked if they can have a joint venture with a foreign company.
Escalada replied: “actually pwede the original JVA (Joint Venture Agreement) na sinasabi mo … that could be governed by other guidelines provided there are infusion of capital and investment funds” at 75-25 or 75 local and 25 foreign.
“So if you want to engage into a JVA with the foreign (firm), you may proceed, you may proceed for purposes lang na una is, you want to get the net contracting capacity, the initial requirements … and the technical experience and the work and the performance at saka track record na sinasabi. So if you want to avail of that track record so that you will be able to share the competence and expertise on that, you can proceed,” he said.
But Escalada said he was referring more on the joint venture among the locals.
“Itong joint venture naman na sinasabi ko.. this is the local joint venture that it is just an understanding with the local contractors, so among you. So it is just a matter of issuing a joint venture agreement from among you, then we will recognize that particular agreement,” he said.
He cited several cases in their housing projects where contractors engage in a joint venture agreement but this arrangement should be disclosed during the negotiations “because once we also discover that na meron ka palang ka partner on the ground and you did not disclose it, that can be a ground (for) termination of project.”
“Overtaken by events”
Undersecretary Falconi Millar, head of the TFBM Secretariat, told MindaNews after the conference that as much as possible, the locals should partner. “Worst case scenario we will welcome foreign partners provided they will comply with the requirements of the law, 75-25.”
The TFBM initially negotiated with the China State-led Bangon Marawi Consortium (BMC) and the PowerChina-led Power China Consortium for a joint venture agreement. Negotiations with BMC failed while negotiations with PowerChina were “overtaken by events na,” Millar said.
“Somewhere along the way… our attention was called that the JVA was not the appropriate modality,” Millar said during his presentation of the project brief at the groundbreaking.
“Hindi pala akma ang JVA” (JVA is not the appropriate modality) because not all of the 22 components are income-generating, he explained.
The first contract, for debris management in Sector 1 of the MAA, was awarded to Finmat International Resources, Inc. which Millar said was supposed to be the partner of PowerChina in the JVA.
Those who attended the conference were asked to submit company profiles for review by a committee that will be created. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)