BFP denies alleged anomalies in firetrucks procurement

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 08 2023 05:15 PM | Updated as of Mar 08 2023 05:21 PM

MANILA — The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) on Wednesday denied favoring specific brands in its procurement of firetrucks.

This, after House Deputy Minority Leader and ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro asked the BFP about its supposed preference of 2 firetruck brands.

"Kung mapapansin po natin dito 1 to 2 brand lang ito. At mula nung 2018 mapapansin natin 'yung mga supplier 1 to 2 lang nagpapalitan dito sa bidding process na ito," Castro said during the House Committee on Public Order and Safety hearing on the firetrucks deals.

(Only 1 or 2 brands were chosen as suppliers since 2018.)

BFP Fire Chief Louie Puracan told lawmakers during the hearing that the 2 suppliers offered the cheapest units among the manufacturers considered. 

"For the last procurement yung nagsu-supply po is Isuzu and Hino for the reason mas mura po... Actually mag-qualify po halos karamihan ng European firetrucks kaso lang pag mag-bid yung European firetrucks like Mercedes, Benz, Volvo...even Korean firetrucks mas mahal kaysa Japanese firetrucks," Puracan said.

(For the last procurement, Isuzu and Hino were chosen because they're cheaper. Most European firetrucks would have qualified, like Mercedes, Benz, Volvo and even Korean firetrucks, but when they bid, they're more expensive.)

In HR 729, the Makabayan bloc claimed that available documents would show that questionable bidding practices apparently still continue to hound the BFP's firetruck procurement program, claiming that the BFP has imposed restrictions in its published bidding documents that effectively "tailored-fit" the process to favored suppliers.

But Puracan dispelled notions that undue advantage was given to suppliers who carried Isuzu and Hino brands.

"There is nothing in the technical requirements that directly pertains to specific brand neither there was any detailed designs or technical descriptions which gave any indirect reference to a brand name," Puracan said.

Puracan also maintained that there was no overpricing in the purchase of firetrucks.

"We submit that there was no overpricing in the questioned procurements of firetruck. For the procurements in November of 2018, until calendar year 2022, based on the approved budget and contract, the unit cost of the contract procured ranges from P11 million to 15 million... These amounts are reasonable as they were based on the prevailing market price of the firetrucks," Puracan said.

The committee will continue its investigation at a later time.