A DIRECTOR of the Cagayan de Oro Water District (COWD) yesterday denied any hand in the alleged overpricing of water meters and machines bought by the firm last year.
There was no overpricing, said former broadcast executive and COWD board secretary Joel Baldelovar.
Baldelovar, a former area manager of Bombo Radyo Philippines, and COWD chairperson Raymundo Java were linked to the alleged irregularities involving the purchase of water meters, a compressor and a welding machine.
But Baldelovar said he and Dr. Java did not decide on their own. He said the decision to buy devices and equipment was approved by the COWD board which is a ‘‘collegial body’’ composed of members with ‘‘independent minds.’’ It was, according to Baldelovar, ‘‘a collective decision."
He described the accusations as ‘‘foul and unfounded’’ and ‘‘fabricated,’’ adding that the COWD board’s decision in all the transactions ‘‘were all above board and legal."
He said the accusations were devoid of logic because the members of the COWD board include former city prosecutor Viviana Sarmiento and prominent Cagayan de Oro lawyer Frederico Gapuz. ‘‘It is illogical that they would concur and cast their votes on something that is illegal," said Baldelovar.
Councilor Zaldy Ocon, who received the complaint, said he would ask Java and Baldelovar to shed light on the matter before the city council.
On the purchase of a compressor, Baldelovar said the firm Civic Merchandising had a "budgetary offer" of P984,500 for a brand new Ingersoll-Rand Compressor, Model P185WIR, as of March 30, 2005. But he explained that the offer was valid for 30 days only or until April 29.
On April 7, 2005, according to Baldelovar, a purchase requisition (PR) was made for a brand new air compressor. However, he said, the bidding was made by the COWD’s Bids and Awards Committee on Nov. 8, 2005 or seven months after the PR was issued.
"The ‘budgetary offer’ was for 30 days only so it lapsed," Baldelovar said.
Prior to the bidding or on Oct.17, 2005, he said COWD general manager Engr. Gaspar Gonzales Jr. received another price quotation from Civic Merchandising for the latest Ingersoll-Rand compressor model (P185 Platinum Series). He said it was priced at P1.8 million.
According to Baldelovar, the previous model was no longer available in the market as the "last inventory had already been disposed in Singapore."
"Obviously, it was no longer a ‘budgetary offer’," Baldelovar said.
He denied that he, Java and the supplier met shortly before the purchase.
Baldelovar said a failure of bidding was declared last Nov. 8 because the approved budget was only for P984,500. This prompted the COWD board to unanimously approve P1.8 million to buy the Ingersoll-Rand compressor, Model P185 Platinum Series, through "direct contracting."
"Direct contracting" is an alternative method of procurement if goods are sold by an exclusive dealer or manufacturer as provided for under R.A. 9184.
He said ‘‘direct contracting’’ was also resorted to when the COWD board unanimously approved the purchase of a welding machine.
Baldelovar admitted that there was an offer for a Hobart Contractor 251D for P589 thousand plus a trailer amounting to P48,200 only. But Baldelovar said COWD considered it ‘‘disadvantageous in the long run’’ because spare parts were no longer available in the market.
"Should the board of directors be faulted and accused maliciously when they only acted and exercised their discretion according to what is legal and practical under the circumstances?" Baldelovar asked.
He also strongly denied that water meters bought by COWD were overpriced, saying the allegation was baseless.
In 1997, Baldelovar said, the COWD board passed a resolution to purchase Asahi Meters since it passed the tests conducted for accuracy and efficiency.
"Do Java and I have a hand in the prices of Asahi Meters when the same has been there even before we entered the COWD?" asked Baldelovar, pointing out that the price has been set years before their appointment to the COWD.
Java rejoined the COWD board in January 2001 while Baldelovar was appointed director effective Jan. 1, 2005 by Mayor Vicente Emano.