In My Own Words - Ron Centeno

a collection of thoughts and my own words

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Corruption via Collusion

Written by Ron Centeno

By and large, the Philippines is replete with pestering corruptions. This is not new, I must admit. I deem, however, important to provide concrete validation to prove the worthiness of such claim. In 2008, according to the Berlin-based organization Transparency International, the Philippines ranked 141st - sharing the gross distinction with Cameron, Iran, and Yemen. At the bottom is Somalia, number 180. In Southeast Asia, we are slightly better than Myanmar (178) and Laos (151).

Indeed, corruption is not new in the Philippines. From the previous administrations of Quirino, Marcos, Estrada, and to the country’s current administration (Arroyo’s), corruption has been recycled in many ways, only with different personalities.

Let us look at the current breed of our country’s menacing malpractice. As of late, and as usual, Jose Miguel ‘Mike’ Arroyo’s foremost name is twice mentioned in the World Bank report on the blacklisting of E. C. de Luna Construction, Cavite Ideal Construction and the CM Pancho Construction, three Filipino construction firms which participated in the failed bidding for NRIMP-1. (Let’s set aside ZTE and Fertilizer scams for now). On that report, an informant provided disclosures to World Bank investigators the details of purported corrupt practices involving multi-million peso public works projects.

Specifically, found on Page 68 of the WB report showed Mike Arroyo to be “behind” three persons actively involved in “arranging collusive bid schemes on behalf of the contractors and politicians.” (Collusion is a secret understanding between two or more persons to gain something illegally, to defraud another of his or her rights, or to appear as adversaries through an agreement).

Moreover, on Page 124, the text read, “August 9, jerrypunch e-mailed again” and noted that “the corruption involvement in this bidding is extensively from FG (e.i., the First Gentleman), congressmen to DPWH office and contractors; and no one has the ability to stop it.”

Let’s dip further into what the informant would have to divulge on how the trick works in this supposed World Bank report.
“Traditionally, contractors in the Philippine construction projects would obtain the ABC (domestically financed projects) for package by bribing individuals within the agency. The bidders would then coordinate which contractor could win the bid”, the informant said.

“But this system has changed and in many instances now, politicians organize the bidding contractors to engage in a sort of auction, where the contractor willing to pay the largest bribe can win the politicians’ support. The politicians then work to ensure that the ‘winning contractor’ wins the contract”, he said.

The informant further revealed that in large government contracts, the process was completely fixed. So that prices and winners and losers are determined before the bidding even takes place. To ensure the system works, “everyone cooperates with the collusive scheme, because they are scared. They know they have to cooperate. The bidders who do not cooperate are subject to elimination from bidding in the future contracts”, he said.

The informant continued, “in order to prequalify to bid on contracts, the company has to be cleared with certain government officials or politicians. If the company did not cooperate with officials, they would ‘kick you out’.“

Finally, he said, “the prequalification of contractors was based on who one knew, and not on experience.”

At the Senate, the pageantry to probe Mike Arroyo’s involvement in these rigged contracts is heightened anew. Recall the previous Senate comedy productions top billed by Jun Lozada and Joc joc Bolante. This current hullabaloo is aptly a sequel, to say the least.

The opposition Senators wanted their grip on Mike’s throat. I would do the same, if I were one of them. Juan Ponce Enrile, however, is not one of them. The longtime-Marcos-crony-turned-EDSA-revolt leader is now a Senate President who thought that the First Gentleman cannot be forced by the Senate chamber’s inquiry into the alleged rigging of bids for World Bank funded projects.

Enrile cited Mike’s health condition – which, for some reason, tends to worsen each time he’s summoned to appear before the Senate or the Court. “It won’t be good to compel him if it will endanger his life”, the Senate chief said. He, however, called on the First Gentleman to break his silence, saying “there were many ways to rebut allegations that one of the three blacklisted Filipino contractors handed over bribe money to (Mike Arroyo) in 2003.” I wonder what the Senate President was referring to about the “many ways” on how FG would disprove the accusations against him. Are there any venues to hold the investigation? Kangaroo court, perhaps?

Other than Mr. Arroyo, summoned to the February 12 Senate hearing are former representatives Prospero Pichay and Jacinto Paras, former Public Works Secretary Florante Soriquez and Lope Adriano, Tito Miranda and Boy Belleza, project director, assistant director and alleged broker, respectively.

Until then, let us pause for a moment as we await the most entertaining show on Philippine soil that is brought to us by the men and women of the Philippine Senate.

Calling Lito Lapid, Bong Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada.

3 Your Thoughts/Comments Here::

Janine said...

Corruption in whatever shape or form. The Philippines need a major overhaul!

Joyce G. Emor said...

Your sentiment is valid. Let's just work hand and hand to be abreast with what happening to our country. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Steve Morozumi said...

whoa! it looks like the basis of this model can be extrapolated to my country as well.

i'm interested to know if you have any information on how your country's bank system, my country's bank system, and the world banks control the various governments and military operations in the world.

-Steve @ fluxlife

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