MANILA, Philippines – Pasig Mayor Vico Sotto hit back at online trolls who said he bloated the cost of printing copies of the city’s official calendar, when in fact he was able to cut it down to less than half the approved price.
The contract to print Pasig’s official calendars, letterhead paper and business cards – those distributed to local government offices and outposts at the start of every year – had an approved budget of more than P14.5 million.
The figure was based on old contract prices for the same project in previous years. However, the contract went for only P4.9 million at the public bidding, or 66% less than the approved cost.
“Dahil tunay ang ating public bidding, hindi luto at walang tongpats, ito ang resulta (Because we have real public bidding, not rigged and no bloating, this is the result),” Sotto said in a post on his official Facebook and Twitter pages on Friday, January 10.
The deal with the winning bidder, JK General Merchandise, saved the city government some P9.7 million, Sotto added.
The contract includes 400,000 copies of the calendar, 315 reams of letter size bond paper with the city’s official letterhead, another 315 reams of the letterhead in legal size, and 560 packs of business cards.
The paper is the right quality, too, based on its “grams per square meter,” the mayor boasted.
But his political opponents were at it again, Sotto said in the same post. He included a screen grab of what appears to be a Facebook post claiming the calendar contract cost P36.7 million.
It’s “fake news,” Sotto said.
“Sa mga gumagastos pa rin ng milyon-milyon para lang siraan ang bagong administrasyon ng Pasig, sige lang, para mabawasan naman ang yaman ‘nyo (To those still spending millions just to discredit Pasig’s new administration, go ahead, just to cut your wealth somehow),” the freshman mayor said in jest.
He then addressed his opponents’ “paid trolls.” He said that he understands that perhaps they just really needed the job, but he urged them to think about whether they really would want to be instruments of lies that only cause damage to society.
Early in his term, Sotto vowed never to accept kickbacks or grease money from anyone wanting to do business with city hall.
It came with orders to rectify the city’s public bidding process by tightening the rules, vetting all bidders, and opening it to third party observers. Bidding sessions are now livestreamed on social media by the city’s public information office.
In December, Sotto announced that the city government saved P150 million in his first 5 months in office just because they cleaned up the public bidding process. The money that would have been lost to corruption was then used for other programs such as scholarships and Christmas gift packs for every resident family.
Still, Sotto faces opposition from the city’s old powers whom he unseated in the 2019 elections. A challenge for him is to steer the bureaucracy he inherited from the Eusebios, who thrived on patronage politics during their nearly 3-decade rule over Pasig.
“Sa lahat ng kapwa ko Pasigueño, sa bawat mabuting pagbabago na pinapakilala natin, ‘di maiiwasang may kokontra, lalo na ‘yung mga nakinabang sa lumang kalakaran. Ngunit basta’t nasa katotohanan tayo, ‘di tayo magpapatinag,” Sotto told his constituents.
(To all my fellow Pasigueños, with every good change we introduce, it’s inevitable to have naysayers, especially those who benefitted from the old ways. But as long as we are in the truth, we won’t be deterred.) – Rappler.com
JC Gotinga often reports about the West Philippine Sea, the communist insurgency, and terrorism as he covers national defense and security for Rappler. He enjoys telling stories about his hometown, Pasig City. JC has worked with Al Jazeera, CNN Philippines, News5, and CBN Asia.