Binay camp: Makati birthday cakes bidding ‘highly questionable’

MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – The camp of suspended Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr said on Tuesday, August 11, that the premise for bidding out a contract to supply of Makati’s cake-giving program is “highly questionable and faulty.”

On Monday the Makati bids and awards committee (BAC) hosted a bidding conference for the city’s free birthday cakes program for the elderly. Goldilocks Bakeshop Incorporated was the sole bidder.

According to Councilor Marie Alethea Casal-Uy, the said bidding conference was premised on the claim of lawyer Renato Bondal, who alleged that the birthday cakes for the Makati elderly were overpriced at P1,000 each.

“However, official documents show that the price was only P306. Bondal admitted in a hearing later that nanghula lang siya,” said Casal-Uy, an ally of the Binay family. (Bondal admitted in a hearing later that he only guessed.)

Bakerite was named as the new cake supplier in March 2014, replacing Cups and Mugs Kitchenette and Catering Services. (READ: From cakes to buildings, Binays ‘overprice, chop-chop’)

However, Makati BAC chairperson Danilo Villas told Rappler on Tuesday that a “failure of bidding” occurred for Bakerite because the final bidding contract was not granted to it following the onslaught of corruption allegations against the Binay family.

He also said that Bakerite was invited to the bidding along with other companies who may be interested to join, but Bakerite did not submit a proposal.

Moreover, Peña, who was sworn as acting mayor following Mayor Binay’s 6-month preventive suspension order, has been personally purchasing the cakes from Goldilocks with the help of unnamed sponsors until a new bidding conference for the supplier has been completed.

Casal-Uy said that Peña may have colluded with lone bidder Goldilocks.

“Even before the bidding was done, Peña had been directly quoted in news reports [as] saying that the new cakes would only cost between P265 to P280. It turns out that the bid prices submitted by Goldilocks for the cakes are almost exactly the same as the prices stated by Peña,” said Casal-Uy.

The councilor said Peña may be charged for violating the Procurement Act and for graft because of “partiality and collusion with the bidder.”

Joey Salgado, the spokesperson for Vice President Jejomar Binay, also shared the same sentiments against the acting Makati mayor in an interview with the ABS-CBN News Channel on Tuesday.

Smaller, fewer cakes

According to Casal-Uy, Peña’s camp is “misleading” the public by “focusing their story on the bid price of Goldilocks at P285.”

“At first glance, it is lower than the maximum bid amount. But they failed to compare the specs as contained in the purchase requests,” Casal-Uy said.

Goldilocks is proposing a total budget of P8,666,080.50 for the production of 31,187 cakes. The price range for its chocolate, marble, and mocha-flavored cakes is between P266-P285.

“In 2014, the size of the cake [from Bakerite] was 9x4 inches, and the quantity was 70,000 pieces. Last Monday, the cake that was bid out was smaller at 9x2 inches and it was only for 31,000 pieces since it is only for the remainder of the year,” Casal-Uy said.

If the Makati BAC approves Goldilocks’ bidding documents, it will be supplying the Makati birthday cakes from August 15 to December 31, 2015.

Peña denies

Peña slammed Casal-Uy's claims, denying that he colluded with Goldilocks.

Malabo po ‘yun. Hindi naman po tayo nangingialam diyan [sa bidding conference],” Peña told Rappler in a phone interview on Tuesday evening. “Wala naman pong proof ‘yan.”

(That’s impossible. I am not meddling with the bidding conference. There is no proof.)

Wala akong makukuhang benefits sa Goldilocks. Nagkataon lang na sila ang lone bidder,” he added.

According to Peña, the price range he previously mentioned to members of the media were only an “honest estimate.”

In a statement sent to reporters on Wednesday, August 12, Makati Public Information Office head and Peña's spokesperson Gilbert Delos Reyes said Casal-Uy "entirely missed the point of this exercise."

"Our foremost consideration is the satisfaction of our senior citizens with their birthday cakes, which means it is the quality of the product, not the size, that matters," Delos Reyes said.

"If you were to choose between a free cake from Goldilocks and another from a virtually unknown bakeshop, would you not go to Goldilocks? It is no different from a child readily choosing a cupcake over plain monay for his baon."

According to Delos Reyes, the Binay camp appears to be "running out of excuses for their lapses and shortcomings, and have thus resorted to making shallow arguments to cloud the issue in the public's eye, and to dodge even bigger issues that require urgent resolution."

He then called on the city council, most of whom are Binay allies, to approve of Peña's pending proposal to grant a one-month bonus to city hall employees through the Productivity Enhancement Incentive. 

"City government workers are looking forward to receiving thier one-month bonus to help them provide for their families' needs. We hope the city council will not fail the expectations of thousands of employees," Delos Reyes said.  – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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