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Saturday, July 13, 2024

Wayward contract

“It was learned that Leonel did not participate in the bidding on December 22 for still unknown reasons, leaving Metrowaste as the lone bidder”

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What’s going on in Parañaque City these days?

After we wrote last week about the garbage crisis in the city, we’re told that members of the City Council have urged Mayor Eric Olivarez to immediately replace the city administrator for failing to submit to them the terms of reference for the P414 million garbage contract awarded last year to Metrowaste Solid Waste Management Corp.

Councilor Marvin Santos, chairman of the rules and oversight committee, said city administrator Voltaire de la Cruz ‘betrayed’ the city government when he asked Olivarez to sign the multimillion contract despite allegedly knowing that Metrowaste had no business permit at the time of the bidding.

It was learned that de la Cruz has a pending administrative complaint before the Civil Service Commission for lack of residency filed by a concerned citizen late last year.

The complaint stated Olivarez should not have appointed de la Cruz as city administrator when the mayor assumed office on July 1, 2022.

De la Cruz was the Malabon City administrator for nine years during the incumbency of Mayor Len Oreta. He also resided in Malabon during those years.

Under the law, any appointive official must have a six months residency requirement before he or she can be appointed.

Since January 24, when the city council conducted a probe of the controversial contract, Santos said de la Cruz disregarded the directive of the committee to immediately hand over a copy of the TOR, pertinent documents and the Metrowaste contract.

A14-page joint committee report said the contract awarded to the new garbage hauler was tainted with irregularities and defective, and therefore unenforceable since it had no authority from the members of the city council.

“The garbage crisis in the city this new year arose due to the inadequacies demonstrated by Metrowaste, which was chosen by the bids and awards committee headed by de la Cruz and who had signed a contract with Olivarez,” said Santos.

Councilor Christopher Aguilar said de la Cruz should have immediately halted the ‘public’ bidding last December 22, since he already knew that Metrowaste had no business permit at that time.

Metrowaste failed again to secure a city business permit when Olivarez signed the multi-million contract last December 27. At the time, the 2022 contract with the former garbage contractor Leonel Waste Management Inc. had not yet lapsed as it was supposed to end only on December 31.

“If City Administrator de la Cruz really drafted the terms of reference for those who will participate in the bidding, he should have immediately disqualified Metrowaste because it did not have a business permit, “Aguilar pointed out.

The business permit is a key document that allows a business enterprise to legally operate in the area where it is registered.

The committee report stated while it is already apparent that Metrowaste could not provide better services than the city’s previous garbage collector, de la Cruz still allowed Metrowaste to participate.

During the public hearing, de la Cruz confirmed based on the TOR of the contract with Metrowaste, the latter was required to provide a fewer number of compactor trucks compared to the previous TOR of the city for the same service, as had been engaged by the City’s previous collector.

Aguilar said Olivarez and de la Cruz executed the contract with Metrowaste despite the fact that no ordinance was enacted, giving Olivarez “blanket authority” from the council to sign contracts in behalf of the city.

The award of contract in a bidding with a lone bidder is a situation contemplated by the law as acceptable provided the lone bidder meets all the necessary eligibility requirements.

Aguilar said the bidding last December 22 in an undisclosed room at the city hall was questionable because the new garbage hauler who only joined the bidding had no business permit.

It was learned that Leonel did not participate in the bidding on December 22 for still unknown reasons, leaving Metrowaste as the lone bidder.

De la Cruz and the chief of the city’s environment and natural resources office also admitted the contract with Metrowaste had glaring shortcomings because of its inadequate transport vehicles and routes.

How will this garbage crisis in the city end?

We’re as eager to find out as the city residents really want to put behind them this unfortunate turn of events not of their own making.

(Email: ernhil@yahoo.com)

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