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NEARLY EVERY month in the last half of 2017, the Department of Social Welfare and Development Field Office in Region XII (Central Mindanao) went on a shopping binge and ended up splurging over a billion pesos.
It spent the sum -- courtesy of taxpayers -- on mongo beans, dried fish, canned fruits, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, sanitary napkins, slippers, blankets, malong, mats, mosquito nets, frying pans, and kettles, all via negotiated "emergency cases" and “small value” contracts for supplies, in the name of the families displaced by the siege of the Islamic City of Marawi last year.
These same malls and store chains took on the contracts even though they were required to deliver the huge quantities of goods within a tight timeframe: "within seven days" upon receipt of notice to proceed.
BAC, signatories Most of the purchase orders for the contracts stipulated the delivery of the supplies direct to multiple evacuation or temporary shelter sites across Marawi City and other parts of Mindanao.
A senior ARMM official also told PCIJ that the latest distribution of goods for Marawi's displaced families -- home-based and at emergency centers -- by DSWD-FO XII happened last Jan. Last March 2, DSWD personnel conducted another distribution of goods, but only at the emergency centers, the official said.
It appears, however, that the agency was gearing up for an announced “homecoming” of Marawi’s displaced residents on Nov.
Ace Centerpoint is a mall based in Koronadal City, South Cotabato that is 283.2-kilometers or nearly seven hours away from Marawi City.
It got three contracts from DSWD-FO XII worth a total of P128.9 million. Tacurong Fitmart and Ace Centerpoint have been perennial winners of contracts from DSWD-FO XII for years now.
All the purchase orders or POs were signed by DSWD-FO XII Director Taha, as well as Rohaifa L.
Calandada, said to be the agency's "regional accountant" who certified to the availability of funds for the contract, and a representative of the supplier. The records also show that the shopping frenzy allowed the top three suppliers to alternately or simultaneously bag huge to mammoth contracts from DSWD-FO XII nearly month on month.The contracts were “negotiated purchases,” which under Republic Act No.9184, or the Government Procurement Reform Act, are allowed for various instances, including "emergency cases." The law's Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations in Section 52, paragraph 2 explains "Emergency Cases" thus: "In case of imminent danger to life or property during a state of calamity, or when time is of the essence arising from natural or man-made calamities or other causes where immediate action is necessary to prevent damage to or loss of life or property, or to restore vital public services, infrastructure facilities and other public utilities.The amount covered financial assistance, cash for work or temporary employment, livelihood assistance, and balik-probinsya or transportation allowance for those who want to return to their homes.