The long-time catering service provider in New Bilibid Prions (NBP), Mang Kiko Catering Services Incorporated, has called on Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II to ensure fairness in the bidding process in choosing a new food provider for the inmates.
Lorna Kapunan, the legal counsel of Mang Kiko Catering Services Inc., accused Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Benjamin delos Santos of favoring a “non-compliant” bidder to remove Mang Kiko out of the line-up.
The service contract of Mang Kiko with the BuCor facility cost more than P300 million a year.
Kapunan said the two other bidders of the national penitentiary failed to meet the set requisites for them to be considered as viable participants in serving the catering needs for some 40,000 inmates nationwide under the BuCor. For Kapunan, the recent bidding for providing catering services were “marred with irreguralities.”
“There is an apparent attempt to favor a new caterer who cannot even satisfy the minimum requirements of Republic Act 9184,” Kapunan told reporters in a press briefing in Quezon City, citing the Government Procurement Reform Act.
She also accused BuCor Bids and Awards Committee chair Cynthia Andrada, for conniving with delos Santos, making for an alleged irregularity within the bidding process of the correctional agency.
“In the end, the BAC headed by Dr. Cynthia Andrada considered the bid of the bidder who failed to comply with the eligibility requirements,” Kapunan added.
But Kapunan did not identify who among the two catering services were favored by the BuCor officials, noting before the media to check on the owner’s “fraternity relation” with the government officials.
Mang Kiko won the December 2016 bidding to provide food for the inmates in the penal colonies in Leyte, Davao, Zamboanga and Palawan. She then said delos Santos allegedly refused to act on the notices of award and contracts due to her client.
“Mang Kiko requested for the release of said notices and award of contracts, but…delos Santos ignored Mang Kiko’s request,” Kapunan stressed.
Mang Kiko then appealed the decision released by the BuCor but its BAC chairman Rolando Asuncion cannot decide on the matter which prompted to vacate his post in January this year.
Kapunan said another bidding was supposed to be held last month, but the BuCor-BAC informed them on May 5 that the bidding was cancelled, describing it as a decision without any clear basis.
She added Mang Kiko raised the concern about the cancellation but BAC insisted on its decision.
On May 11, BuCor notified Mang Kiko that they were blacklisted to join the bidding, citing a January incident wherein the catering services exchange a pork viand for a scheduled beef viand.
Mang Kiko reasoned out that substitution of food viand was allowed under their contract with the government agency attached to the Department of Justice, as it met the nutritional requirements.
Kapunan also lashed out at Aguirre and delos Santos for blaming Mang Kiko for the diarrhea outbreak on May 25 and 26 at the NBP wherein two inmates died even as the Department of Health has not yet released any official results on its findings but has identified NBP water sources as the cause of the diarrhea in its statements to media.
“Blaming Mang Kiko for the diarrhea outbreak appears to be a vicious and concerted effort to destroy the good name and reputation of Mang Kiko, to ensure that will be blacklisted as food caterer and bring in a favored caterer in BuCor in complete disregard of the provisions of RA 9184,” she said.
The problem at the NBP can be attributed to its “century-old” water pipelines, which she said was contaminated with coliform way back in 2010, Kapunan added.
With this, she said Mang Kiko drilled a 240-foot deep artesian well near the NBP kitchen and installed a chlorinator so the catering services can have its own water supply which recently passed DOH scrutiny and review.
“These irregularities in the bidding process of the BuCor are known to Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre. We sent several letters asking Secretary Aguirre to immediately investigate and supervise closely the bidding process in BuCor and to deliver on his promise that someone in Bucor will be held responsible for the diarrhea outbreak. Unfortunately, he has not responded to any of these letters,” she said.