By CONG B. CORRALES
Associate Editor .
CAGAYAN de Oro’s Ororama Supercenter and two medium-sized asset grocery stores in Region 12 had windfall as a result of the Marawi siege last year — the government, through negotiated contracts, splurged over P1 billion for relief goods from them, showed a May 25 report by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ).
In the report entitled “DSWD-12 blows a billion pesos on food packs, various kits for Marawi,” PCIJ noted that the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Region 12 paid P1.09 billion for relief goods supplied by Tacurong Fitmart, Ororama Supercenter, and Ace Centerpoint.
The supply contracts, according to the report, were all via negotiated “emergency cases” and “small value” contracts for supplies for the families displaced by the Marawi siege last year.
The PCIJ noted that the stores were located hundreds of kilometers away from Marawi.
The See family-owned Ororama Superstore here, 102.9 km from Marawi, bagged three supply contracts amounting to P158.8 million. It was the second biggest supplier of relief goods although what it earned was a far cry from what Sultan Kudarat-based Tacurong Fitmart Inc. bagged.
PCIJ reported that Tacurong Fitmart, about 252 km from Marawi, secured seven supply contracts from DSWD 12 amounting to P806.8 million.
Coming in third is Ace Centerpoint based in Koronadal City, South Cotabato, which is some 283.2 km from Marawi. It bagged three contracts amounting to P128.9 million.
PCIJ reported that Tacurong Fitmart and Ace Centerpoint have been perennial winners of DSWD-12 contracts for years while Ororama Superstore is a relative newcomer to government contracts.
“According to the resolutions of the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) that handled the contracts, these suppliers were chosen because each had submitted quotations that offered the ‘lowest and most advantageous price’ over the other bidder-suppliers,” the report reads in part.
The “negotiated purchases” are covered by the Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act. These are allowed in “emergency cases.”
However, government records show that the “shopping frenzy allowed the top three suppliers to alternately or simultaneously bag huge to mammoth contracts from DSWD-12 nearly month on month.”
PCIJ also noted that it was “unusual” for DSWD-12 to award four multimillion-peso contracts — two to Ororama, and one each to Tacurong Fitmart and Ace Centerpoint — in just a single day, Nov. 17, 2017.
“That day, DSWD-FO XII gave away a total of P756,644,559.20, or three-fourths of the billion-peso amount for supplies that it spent in the second half of 2017 supposedly to assist the displaced residents of Marawi,” PJIC reported.
The breakdown of the windfall from June 5 to Nov. 17, 2017: Tacurong Fitmart bagged seven supply contracts; Ororama Superstore won three supply contracts; Ace Centerpoint garnered three supply contracts.
The PCIJ found it unusual that government agencies would award supply contracts to Ororama, a relative newcomer in government contracts, when it was not exactly in tip-top shape.
“Ororama had to deliver P158.8 million worth of goods in 2017. For purposes of comparison, it can be said that the company’s current assets in 2014, which then stood at P170 million [latest available information], is higher than the contract amount it is supposed to deliver,” the report reads.
Ororama, which started in 1969, has three branches in the city — one in Cogon, Carmen, and at the Total Lower Price store at Market City in Lapasan.
“Its current liabilities were at P222.8 million, according to its 2014 financial statement. Ororama Supercenter’s financial position was not in tip-top shape in 2014, although it did have non-current assets worth P106 million, which could be sold for more liquidity. It also reported retained earnings at P33 million,” reported PCIJ.
Although Ororama came out second in the top three earners of government contracts, it has bagged contracts worth P164 million from other agencies in Region 12 such as the Department of Labor and Employment-12, Department of Public Works and Highways, the PCIJ analysis of procurement data showed.
(The PCIJ report can be viewed here: http://pcij.org/stories/dswdegion-12-blows-a-billion-pesos-on-food-packs-various-kits-for-marawi/ )