Wednesday, 19 April 2017 09:36

Firetrucks deal to push through, after all

The controversial deal to purchase firetrucks from Austria, which led to the sacking of former Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno, will go ahead in the absence of a Supreme Court order blocking it, a ranking Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) official said Tuesday.

Epimaco Densing III, DILG Assistant Secretary for Plans and Programs, said the project to buy 76 Rosenbauer firetrucks would continue, with 14 units expected to arrive at the Batangas City port within the day.

“It will proceed. There is no TRO (temporary restraining order). There was a question about the first delivery but the Supreme Court did not issue a TRO,” Densing said. “And this is a perfected contract. We’re just implementing a perfected contract.”

The DILG had acquired an initial batch of Rosenbauer firetrucks under former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas in 2013 but this was questioned before the Supreme Court due to allegations of overpricing.

Sueno went to Austria in January for the acquisition of another batch of 76 firetrucks.

Critics claimed that Sueno ignored a DILG legal opinion advising prudence in paying for the first batch of firetrucks under Roxas since there was a pending case in the Supreme Court.

President Duterte questioned Sueno about the DILG legal opinion but the former DILG chief claimed he had not seen it. Mr. Duterte then fired Sueno.

Densing said however that the two contracts to acquire the firetrucks were cleared by the Department of Finance, the Department of Justice, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, and the National Economic Development Authority.

“The DILG legal opinion advised prudence in paying for the project but the first scheduled payment is still (in 2021) under the terms of the loan,” he said.“Let us also remember that this is a perfected contract and a government-to-government transaction. Austria is one of the countries in the world which has the least corrupt practices in the world,” he said.

“They will not have a contract with our government and have corrupt activities in between,” he added.

Densing also said that the firetrucks would actually cost P3.8 million based on the favorable loan terms that the government got.

“So, compared to the P7 million we would pay if we buy a firetruck on the spot, each Rosenbauer firetruck will cost only P3.8 million. So, it’s more affordable and it’s of high quality,” he added.

Densing said he wasn’t aware if the President’s concerns were addressed.

“This is an issue (between) the President and former Secretary Sueno and again, whoever the president wants removed from his Cabinet, that’s his choice,” Densing said.

“Nobody can question it. He’s not even required to investigate,” he added.

But lawyer Leo Romero, who had petitioned the Supreme Court to stop the deal, insisted that President Duterte fired Sueno precisely for the anomalies surrounding the purchases.

In a five-page letter dated April 17, Romero reminded acting Interior Secretary Catalino Cuy that it was “public knowledge” that Sueno was fired “upon the ‘first whiff’ of graft and corruption in the questioned trip to Austria for meetings and negotiations with the officials of Rosenbauer.”

He said that Bureau of Fire Protection chief Bobby Baruelo issued an order in March directing the BFP Inspection and Acceptance Committee to proceed with the acquisition despite the controversy.

Baruelo’s order was “bereft of any legal and factual basis” and should not be followed, Romero stressed.

He said the Legal and Legislative Liaison Service of the DILG in fact had released a legal opinion on Oct. 26, 2016, advising Sueno to suspend the procurement project.

Romero said the Office of the Solicitor General had also informed the Supreme Court that it was withdrawing its services as counsel of the BFP and the DILG after it found their “position (on the case) irreconcilable.”

He said Baruelo’s directive was part of “an ongoing brazen attempt” by some unscrupulous BFP officials to “countermand” the DILG’s legal opinion and the President’s order.
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The Department of Internal and Local Government (DILG) has come into full swing as they spearheaded campaigns, fora, symposiums, consultations and education drives on Federalism with various sectors and groups.

Today, the DILG Task Team is holding a consultative conference at the NAPOLCOM Center, Quezon Avenue with representatives from Federalism groups and stakeholders in crafting an inclusive roadmap to federalism. The CDPI has been invited to join in this consultative conference and share the centrist democrats’ position regarding the federalism roadmap.

We are glad to inform that the DILG Task Team on Federalism has adopted the Centrist Democrats' position in passing the salient pre-requisites in pursuing Federalism such as the passage of Political Party Development Act, passage of Freedom of Information Bill, passage of Anti-Dynasty Bill, and Electoral Reforms.

Dr. Enerico M. Sampang, Program Manager on Federalism, DILG Task Team on Federalism have shared a common position with CDPI.

"We have adopted the position of Mr. Lito Lorenzana and his group [the Centrist Democratic Party and the Centrist Democracy Political Institute] as pre-requisites in pursuing Federalism in the Philippines. We have presented this to the President already.", he said during the consultative conference.

For Federalism to succeed, the four preconditions must be put in place. First precondition is political party reform. Political parties must possess an ideological core, aggregating the needs and aspirations of a diverse segment of our society. Second precondition is to enact a law banning the Political Dynasties to diffuse concentration of powers by the dynastic families in the barangay, local, and national positions. The third precondition is the passage of the Freedom of Information Bill (FOI) to enforce transparency in all transactions in government allowing public access to information pertaining to official acts. The fourth precondition is initiate electoral reforms that would put in place a system that will not pervert the will of the populace. Any system that adheres to the democratic principles should consider clean and fair elections as imperatives.

With the support from DILG, the following prerequisites will serve as basis for advocating the Federalism model and for the continuing conversations with other Federalism groups and stakeholders.
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PASIG CITY, Sept. 26 - The country’s more than 42,000 barangays are set to hold their respective Barangay Assembly Day on Sunday, October 9, 2016, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) announced.

Proclamation No. 260 issued on September 30, 2011 declared the last Saturday of March and the second Sunday of October 2011 and every year thereafter as barangay assembly days.

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MANILA – Former Senate president Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr. on Wednesday said that under the federal system of government, the powers of the Executive Department over local government units (LGUs), particularly by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), will be abolished.

“Yes it will be dissolved (eventually),” said Pimentel, a prime mover of federalism in the country even long before the idea was broached by President Rodrigo Duterte.
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QUEZON CITY, June 17 -- A total of 559 first-time governors and city and municipal mayors are expected to join the basic orientation training program for newly minted local officials to be conducted by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Outgoing Interior and Local Government Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento said the ‘Basic Orientation: The First 100 Days’ is part of the long-running Newly-elected Officials (NEO) Program of the DILG through its training arm, the Local Government Academy (LGA) which is a term-based, comprehensive Capacity Development Program for local governments.
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The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) lauds the passage of Republic Act No. 10756 or the Election Service Reform Act, which makes election duty non-compulsory for public school teachers.

RA 10756 entitled “An Act Rendering Election Service Non-Compulsory for Public School Teachers, Authorizing the Appointment of Other Qualified Citizens, Providing for Compensation and Other Benefits,” was signed into law by President Benigno S. Aquino III on April 8, 2016.
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