P7M beds, furniture for Comelec's resthouses

by RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 16 2012 08:57 PM | Updated as of Aug 18 2012 12:50 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The supplier of the controversial beds and furniture of Commission on Election's (Comelec) resthouses in Baguio City on Thursday said there was no overpricing of the furniture.

Renato dela Cruz, owner of Paula's Furniture, told ABS-CBN News in an exclusive interview that his products are high-end, made to order, and handcrafted according to customer specifications.

The furnitures are made using Philippine mahogany and tanguile, he said.

He said most of his clients are include rich Filipinos, expatriates, and embassies.

"Karamihan sa mga ginagawa namin handcrafted. 'Di ako nagbebenta nang tapos agad. Made to order lahat. Wala naman akong showroom. Kung may mga catalogue ako, normally clients nagpupunta rito may dala na kagad drawing magazines," dela Cruz said.

He said he was approached by Comelec representatives for quotations on furniture for the the commission's resthouses in Baguio City.

Dela Cruz told ABS-CBN News he initially didn't want to participate in the procurement since Comelec's budget was too low for his prices, with respect to the living room and dining room sets and double deck beds.

He was also wary since the Comelec wanted to rush the manufacturing for the Holy Week this year. He finished his deliverables in just 2 months.

"Nag-canvass sila, siguro may na-refer sa akin. May dala silang calling card, may dalang picture, may bigay sila sa akin, may description lahat drawings nila. Naging interesado ako siyempre trabaho iyun eh. Sabi nila, magsubmit ako ng quotation. Natatandaan ko, gagamitin nila sa Holy Week vacation 'ata. Ganun natatandaan ko," he said.

Expensive or not?

Based on the Comelec's Notice of Award to dela Cruz' company dated February 21, 2012, the commission asked dela Cruz to supply among others, 7 king-sized beds worth P91,000 each, 17 queen-sized beds worth at least P85,000 each, 20 double-deck beds worth at least P15,000 each, 2 dining table sets, and 3 living room sets.

Dela Cruz only agreed to particpate after he saw that the Comelec was willing to spend more on the king-sized beds.

"Doon ako na-attract kaya nag-quote ako medyo maganda presyo. Okay lang presyo nun, ang makakita magde-decide," he said.

"'Di ko naman pwedeng sabihin napakaganda nun. May mahal akong kama P100,000 pa, napamahal din iyon sa mattress niya, orthepedic eh. Iyung iba, living room set kung iko-quote ko mas mataas pa dapat eh. Sa kama dun gumanda presyo. Double deck, wala rin iyon," he added.

Dela Cruz said the Comelec has already paid him for the project, which according to the Notice of Award is worth P3.35 million.

However, the Comelec has yet to return his performance security bond worth over P60,000.

Comelec's purchases for the vacation houses, however, do not end there.

Aside from the beds, living room and dining room sets, the Comelec also ordered for kitchen appliances, coffee tables, washing machines, water dispensers, curtains, blinds, lampshades, bed linens, dinner ware sets, TV sets , DVD players and champagne glasses.

The total budget for furniture and fixtures for the Comelec's resthouses is P7.9 million.

Probe ordered

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes told radio dzMM on Thursday morning he is investigating the matter.

He said he has seen the beds and they do not look like they are worth P91,000 each.

Brillantes said he wasn't prepared to answer questions about the purchase during the budget hearing at the Senate, so he is now looking at the documents on the purchase.

He said the Baguio lodging houses were renovated in 2009 and 2010. They were constructed in the 1960's.

He said the purchase went through bidding procedures.