LAST JANUARY 21, at a House of Representatives committee hearing on the alleged collusion and corruption in World Bank-financed road projects, Pampanga Rep. Aurelio Gonzales Jr. offered a quaint proposition. He said it should be the Bank that should be sanctioned and not the contractors who won the bids under a cloud of collusion and overpricing.
“(Hindi) dapat i-sanction ang mga contractors,” said Gonzales, one of the vice chairmen of the committee on public works and highways that was conducting the hearing. Instead, he asserted, it should be the World Bank that should be put under scrutiny.
COLLUSION, LIKE beauty, may be in the eyes of the beholder — or the investigators — at least as far as public-works projects in the Philippines are concerned.
When the World Bank’s powerful and dreaded anti-corruption unit, the Department of Institutional Integrity (INT), looked closely into three rounds of international public tenders for two Bank-funded road projects in the Philippines between 2002 and 2006, it found convincing proof of collusion and excessive pricing among some of the 15 Filipino and foreign bidders.
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