MWSS downplays COA questions on Kaliwa Dam bidding

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 20 2019 04:03 PM

This structure, which locals call "Laiban Dam" in Tanay, Rizal, was built during the time of former Pres. Ferdinand Marcos, and will form part of the Kaliwa Dam project. Art Fuentes, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System on Tuesday played down suggestions that the awarding of the contract for the Kaliwa Dam project was rigged following a Commission on Audit report that questioned the bidding process. 

The COA team which examined the Kaliwa Dam deal earlier said that while the project had the "semblance of competitive bidding...in reality, it is a negotiated contract from the inception of the bidding process."

China Energy Engineering Corporation won the Kaliwa Dam contract, besting two other Chinese firms.

COA Team Leader Reny Meryl Marquez however said the two bidders were included merely to comply with the Procurement Law which says there must be at least 3 bidders for a project. 

In a statement issued Tuesday, MWSS said its management "has already submitted the detailed explanation of the Technical Working Group to the COA Auditor."

The MWSS statement however did not elaborate about its "detailed explanation" to COA. 

MWSS said it obtained and submitted several documents required under the loan agreement to agencies like the Monetary Board of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the Department of Finance and the Bureau of Treasury. 

"Clearly, the govt approvals to the Loan Agreement were secured in full coordination with all concerned agencies to implement this govt flagship project which is part of the MWSS' Water Security Program," MWSS said. 

The agency said it was also securing an Environmental Compliance Certificate so that the project could proceed. 

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo has said that if the bidding is proven to be rigged, it will be up to President Rodrigo Duterte to allow or suspend the contract.

The Kaliwa Dam will cost P18.7 billion and is not expected to be completed until 2023. 

It will be funded via an Official Development Assistance from China, and is part of Duterte’s “Build, Build, Build” program.

Members of the Dumagat tribe oppose the construction of the dam saying it will have a negative impact on the environment and their ancestral lands.