BAGUIO CITY — Only a few weeks after Mayor Reinaldo A. Bautista Jr. apologized for a garbage transport deal, a former congressional candidate here took a serious look at yet another contract the mayor signed without proper bidding.
Lawyer Edgar M. Avila told the Baguio press Friday he just wanted to offer some help as he pointed out some lapses that seem to be following a trend. He warned the mayor may face plunder raps for allowing a private company to collect taxes in behalf of the city, allowing 25% as payment for its services or a hefty P480 million within the five-year contracted period.
Avila asked the city mayor to rescind the contract, which he considers not only immoral but also scandalous and obscene, in a letter he sent on August 8. Bautista reportedly had no reply as of press time.
“This contract might be worse than the Jadewell contract,” he said, recalling the contract then Mayor Bernardo Vergara signed that allowed a private pay parking company to conduct business along city parks and streets.
Last month the city mayor was in hot waters for a deal with a private garbage hauler, Metro Waste Management Corporation, without a contract or public bidding.
Last week, the Commission on Audit and the Department of Budget and Management opined there was no need for a contract because the deal was entered into in an urgent and emergency situation.
Tax collection contract: plunderous
The contract, signed on June 29, 2007, one day before elected officials took to office, involves a data mining and reconciliation of real property taxes due to the city. Bautista signed the contract in behalf of the city while Reynaldo R. Medina signed for Woodfields Consultants, a private firm.
In a media forum Thursday, Bautista confirmed having signed the contract but did not specify the date. He said it resulted from a 2006 council resolution which authorized him to enter into a memorandum of agreement with Woodfields.
“I was then the vice-mayor,” Bautista said. He was acting mayor when then Mayor Braulio D. Yaranon served two six-month suspensions in relation to his order closing Jadewell Parking Systems.
The same resolution endorsed the project proposal for a results-based revenue generation for the city, which turned out to be the data mining project.
Avila said the 25% share is too big for a company which has sold the system to the city. He said the amount could go as high as P2 billion in a five-year period.
The council confirmed the contract on April 21, this year revising the payment from 25% of “actual collection” during the contract period to “25% in cash over and above of what is identified by the city and collected by the city treasurer” during the contract period, based on the real property taxes actually identified or mined by Woodfields to tax.
Although the 2006 resolution specified that the contract be subjected to bidding for transparency, the new set of councilors went over the contract and ruled in a resolution on April 21 that according to a committee report, the bidding may be done away with.
The said resolution invoked section 48 of the Procurement Act, which allows direct contracting or single sourcing.
Avila also questioned the “unsolicited offer,” as he noticed a trend in the contracts, the other being the Metro Waste garbage hauling work, which was allegedly unsolicited.
“The power to tax cannot be delegated to a private entity,” he said. # Lyn V. Ramo