Comelec clarifies scope of logistics deal under scrutiny; watchdog raises 'propriety'

Aleta Nieva-Nishimori and Jauhn Etienne Villaruel, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 24 2021 04:52 PM

Davao tycoon Dennis Uy, a campaign donor to President Rodrigo Duterte's 2016 presidential bid, is said to be the owner of a logistics firm that is one step away from officially bagging a crucial Halalan 2022 deal. ABS-CBN/File
Davao tycoon Dennis Uy, a campaign donor to President Rodrigo Duterte's 2016 presidential bid, is said to be the owner of a logistics firm that is one step away from officially bagging a crucial Halalan 2022 deal. ABS-CBN/File

MANILA — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday clarified the scope of the logistics contract now under scrutiny after a firm poised to bag the deal was found to have links to a Davao tycoon with close ties to President Rodrigo Duterte. 

"Yung kontratang binid ng F2 ay hindi para sa supply of equipment. Ang actual bid nila is for the deployment, logistics po. Deployment lang sila, hindi magsu-supply ng equipment," Comelec spokesman James Jimenez told TeleRadyo.

(F2 did not bid for supply of equipment. The actual bid was for the deployment, logistics. Only the deployment, not to supply equipment.)

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Comelec chairman Sheriff Abas on Monday announced he has asked a panel to probe concerns regarding F2 Logistics after a watchdog said its links to Davao tycoon Dennis Uy was a "red flag."

Uy is the 4th largest campaign donor to President Rodrigo Duterte's 2016 presidential bid, contributing P30 million. 

Jimenez also clarified that F2 Logistics was not yet awarded the contract. 

“Wala pa pong award. Nasa stage pa lang tayo ng tinatawag na post qualification. Lowest bid lang yan. 'Di po ibig sabihin na nai-award na. Ibang step pa po yan. May post qualification pa,” explained Jimenez.

(There’s no award yet. We're still at the stage we call post qualification. It was just the lowest bid which does not mean that it was already awarded. There’s a different step for that. There is still post qualification process.) 

Whether F2 will officially bag the contract may be announced on the second week of September, he added.

“Magsa-submit ng report sa en banc. 'Yun ang medyo mas matagal kasi ie-evaluate nila yung post qualification. So maybe, a week or two from now, doon pa lang natin makikita kung mag-a-award nga tayo dito sa F2. Approximately mga second week of September,” Jimenez said.
 
(They will submit a report to the en banc. And it may take time because they have to evaluate the post qualification. So maybe a week or two from now, we’ll see if F2 will be awarded the contract. Approximately, around the second week of September.)
 
After the post qualification process, there is still a recourse for those who want to challenge the outcome.

While Comelec "understands" the opposition to the possible deal, Jimenez said they have a "legal framework" that sets specific grounds on when a bidder can be disqualified. 

"Naiintindihan po namin yun na may ganung klaseng pangamba. Pero kasi yung problema po natin, 'yung ating bidding rules ay very specific... Puwede kang mag-blacklist ng isang potential bidder kung may problem sa potential bidder na yun, kung may kinaso at napatunayang nagkasala, etc,” he said.

(Our bidding rules is very specific. We can blacklist a potential bidder if there is a problem with that potential bidder, if it was found to be guilty of a case that was filed against it.)

PROPRIETY

However, poll watchdog Kontra Daya, which was among the first to raise the alarm over the potential deal, said the Comelec should also consider the "propriety" and "ethics" surrounding it.

"Wag tayo magpatali sa legalidad. Tingnan lang natin yung ethics at propriety na ‘yung isa sa malalaking campaign contributors ni Duterte ay mangangasiwa sa transportasyon ng election paraphernalia, supply, equipment, etc,” Kontra Daya convenor Danilo Arao told TeleRadyo.

(Let's not be tied to the legalities. Let's just look at the ethics and propriety of this deal.)

Arao likewise challenged Uy to once and for all confirm or deny his ownership of F2.

"Sana isapubliko niya. Yes or no lang naman. Ikaw ba ang may ari ng F2 Logistics?"Arao said.

(He should make it public. It's just a yes or a no. Are you the owner of F2 Logistics?)

While Uy has not publicly confirmed or denied his ownership of F2 Logistics, ABS-CBN News has obtained an annual report of Phoenix Petroleum Philippines submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2020, where it listed F2 Logistics as a subsidiary of Udenna Management & Resources Corp., under the parent company Udenna Corporation in which Uy sits as chairman and president. 

A Wall Street Journal profile also listed Uy as chairman at F2 Logistics. 

For Arao, this may cast doubt on the integrity of the upcoming elections.

"Kung yung in-charge sa transportation ay closely identified sa nakaupong pangulo, syempre andon pa rin ang suspicion na baka may pandarayang gagawin," he said.

Duterte's political party, the PDP-Laban, announced Tuesday that the 76-year-old leader has accepted their endorsement for him to seek the country's second highest position during next year's elections.

Election lawyer Romulo Macalintal said last month that while Duterte may have the right to run for vice president, without any legal question, it shows the weakness of his political party.

"Maaaring may karapatan siyang tumakbo pero hindi naman ibig sabihin ay tamang-tama yun. Kasi para sa akin, ito ay pagpapakita na mahina ang kanilang polital party o ang PDP-Laban dahil sa wala na silang makuhang kandidato," Macalintal said.

The Constitution bans only a former President from seeking re-election and this does not apply to other posts, Duterte's allies said. But opposition lawmakers said a Duterte vice presidential run would violate the spirit of the Constitution and that his true goal was to be a successor-president.