MANILA - Graft complaints were filed before the Ombudsman Wednesday against Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap and 13 others over the procurement of allegedly overpriced ice-making machines.
Losing bidders claimed the bidding process for the project was manipulated.
The ice-making machines that the Department of Agriculture (DA) will be purchasing are made in China, but they were reportedly invented by a Filipino.
The machines are said to be capable of freezing fish, meat or vegetables in just 3 minutes, which would allow users to keep its stocks of produce fresh.
Each unit costs nearly P5 million.
The National Agribusiness Corporation or NABCOR, which is under the DA, is setting aside P455 million to buy 98 units.
The winning bidder is the Integrated Refrigeration Systems and Services Incorporated (IRSSI).
But 3 companies who lost in the bid--Sunvar Trading, Kolonwel, Joavi Philippines--claimed the project was overpriced by P200 million.
They said each unit only costs less than P2.5 million and not almost P5 million.
The losing bidders also pointed out that IRSSI was only registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission on the eve of the bidding.
“Dapat po ang isang qualification, meron kang 50% na previous project accomplished bago ka sumali sa ganyan. Imagine, ang capitalization nila P5 million, ang ibi-bid P455 million,” said Rey Cortez of Kolonwel Trading.
The complainants filed the graft charges against Yap, 6 officials of NABCOR, as well as officials from the winning bidder.
A statement released Wednesday by the complainants said those named as respondents aside from Yap were NABCOR President Alan Javella; NABCOR Bids and Awards Committee chairman Romulo Arevallo; Dennis Lozada, Winton Azucena, Melody De Guzman, and Encarnita-Cristina Munsod of the IRSSI.; and their representatives, Alexander Leung, Chairman; Lawrence Tan Son, Manager; Yao Ching Hsun, Director; Stephen Vehemente, Corporate Secretary; Marites Soriano, Assistant Corporate Secretary; and Jason Paz, treasurer.
The complainants alleged that Yap tried to prevent them from exposing the issue.
“Ako at saka ibang bidder ay tinawagan niya para ayusin na lang 'to eh. Umaareglo siya,” said Allan Ragasa, Sunvar Trading.
A DA official and an IRSSI lawyer denied the allegations.
“The procedure is set forth and very clear, so pag di mo in-avail iyong remedy allowed under the law, kasalanan mo na iyon, di ba?” DA Undersecretary Bernie Fondevilla
“This is a comparison between apples and oranges. ‘Yong complainant, hindi properly informed kung anong klaseng superior technology meron iyong IRSSI,” said Atty. Kathyrin Pioquinto, NABCOR legal counsel
ABS-CBN News could not get in touch with Yap, who was in Rome as of posting time. -- ANC