ISABELA Rep. Rodolfo Albano III hinted Sunday that the administration could be raising funds for the ruling Liberal Party’s 2016 election campaign after a House panel found that the imported license plates ordered by the Land Transportation Office under a P3.2 billion contract were substandard and overpriced by P180 each or about P1.51 billion.
In an interview over radio dzBB, Albano said the winning bidder priced the imported plate at P380 while the lowest bidder pegged the cost at P200.
Albano demanded that the contract be suspended while Congress investigates the deal.
“First of all, the plates are too expensive, and second there were only two bidders. Third, why did the plates have to be made outside the country? If it’s possible to make them here, they should have contracted them here so there would be no backlog in plate requests,” Albano said in Filipino.
Albano said the plates are being imported from the Netherlands and that the LTO is claiming they had to put security features on the plates.
“The timing was off,” Albano said, saying people would suspect the new fees would go to a campaign kitty during the coming election year.
Albano said the bid seemed to have been tailor-fit for the winning bidder because the six others who participated but lost the bidding had lower bids.
He said it seemed like the LTO has become a milking cow.
“That’s not right. They are using their position in government to perpetuate themselves in power,” Albano said. “The government’s straight path policy is being damaged by what they are doing with these plates.”
Albano said he could not understand why the plates were substandard and the bid was awarded to a small company, noting that they folded when they passed through flood waters.
“You can see that these plates are really thin. Let’s see how they defend this, including the security features. They say there are watermarks. They should show us those and also tell us how they came up with that price. I don’t know why they changed the old plates when they were fine,” Albano said.
Albano was also irked that some car owners had to wait six months to have their plates issued.
He maintained that the winning bidder had committed a breach of contract and that there was every reason for the LTO to suspend or cancel the contract.
“You bid one thing then deliver another. That’s a breach of contract,” Albano said. “You bid for apples but you deliver guavas. Won’t you be jailed for that?”
Albano demanded to know why the six other losing companies that were bigger than the winning bidder were disqualified.
Albano said he was waiting for a Commission on Audit report on the LTO plate deal, which could discontinue the contract.
The congressman also asked why the House committee on Metro Manila development had taken jurisdiction over the probe, instead of the committee on transportation.
Albano said Quezon City Rep. Winnie Castelo and Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon would push for the transportation panel to takeover the probe.
Albano also railed against the LTO policy of “no plate, no travel.”
“They cannot do that. It’s their fault. You pay but you don’t get your plate. This is shameful. This is the President’s last year. They are ruining his reputation and his legacy. What a shame,” the congressman added.
The Palace said Sunday Albano’s allegations about fund-raising needed to be substantiated, and criticized the lawmaker.
“Responsible public officials should refrain from hurling baseless criticisms,” said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr.
In June, President Benigno Aquino III lashed out at former Cebu governor Lito Osmeña for suggesting that the Liberal Party might misappropriate the P14.4 billion payment made by an international contractor to upgrade, operate and maintain the Mactan airport and divert these to the 2016 campaign.
Aquino said the allegation was an insult to people’s intelligence. – With Sandy Araneta
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