Makati bldg contractor linked to overpriced CHED project

Posted at 09/05/14 12:50 PM

MANILA - Hilmarc's Construction Corp, the contractor that bagged the P2.2 billion Makati City Hall Building 2 project, is now being linked to another allegedly overpriced call center project.

In a statement, Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon said Hilmarc's also figured in the anomalous multimillion Business Process Outsourcing Incubation Contact Center (BPO-ICC) project of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) that the Commission on Audit (COA) halted back in 2009 due to several irregularities.

Ridon said Hilmarc's was part of the e-SGS consortium, which clinched the contract for the P500-million call center project in a highly controversial bidding procedure back in 2007.

Other members of the e-SGS consortium include E-Services Global Solutions, Inc. (ESGS); DrishtiPhilippines, Inc. (DPI); and Information Transmission Computer Control, Inc. (ITCC).

"It appears that Hilmarc's Construction has already been involved in issues of overpricing in past government projects. It is troubling to note that this company is still under full operation, and has been able to clinch government infrastructure contracts left and right," Ridon said.

The BPO-ICC, better known as CHED's call center project, involved building facilities and procuring technologies to set up incubation hubs in six state schools including the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), the Technological University of the Philippines (TUP), Laguna State Polytechnic College (LSPC), Tarlac State University (TSU), Pangasinan State University (PSU), and Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University (DMMMSU).

In 2007, an internal report of CHED revealed that the contract with eSGS did not undergo proper bidding procedures, and the civil works component of the project was also overpriced.

According to the CHED investigation, the P40,646 per square meter cost of construction of the call center building in PUP, that was to serve as the "command center" of the BPO-ICC, was overpriced, since government agency estimates for similar single-floor buildings with medium-quality finish peg the cost at only P20,000 per square meter.

In 2008, COA released a special audit report which revealed that under the CHED-eSGS contract, the contractor will be paid P87.3 million "without clear deliverables."

From 2009 to 2010, COA issued several notices of disallowances for payments under the call center project.

In 2009, the contract with eSGS consortium was pre-terminated due to the said irregularities, and the subsequent implementation of the project was passed to the purview of the six SUCs concerned.