COA-SM links - 3
WITH MODESTO P. SA-ONOY
Before proceeding with the documents showing the professional and financial relationship of the family of the Commission on Audit chairperson, Maria Gracia Pulido-Tan with SM companies, let me comment on the rather condescending statement by SM Prime Holdings lawyer, Vince Bayhon that came out last Friday.
He blames the Occidental Negros Provincial government for the delay in the decision of COA on the contract between the province and Ayala Land Inc.
He said that “if only the provincial government observed the right and proper bidding process from the very beginning by following the rules and the required steps prior to and during the bidding, the said project should have been developed when everything was already in place.”
He speaks like all losing bidders do and we can understand that.
The issue here is not the procedure in the bidding process and that is now with the court. I will refrain from commenting on the matter.
The issue is the inaction of the Commission on Audit and not the case that SM filed in court. Bayhon, a lawyer of the Puno law firm knows that these are two separate issues and the court case has no bearing on the action of COA that to this day, almost ten months after the contract was submitted to it, has failed to decide.
If all the projects that had court cases were stopped on the mere cause of a case having been filed against the government or whatever, this government, or any government for that matter, would cease to function.
Imagine if a losing bidder files a case and, following the thinking or theory of Bayhon, can the construction of a road or a bridge or the purchase of office equipment and materials ever proceed?
The case that SM Prime filed is of no import to and should not prevent COA from doing its job - decide within the time frame mandated to it by the Constitution – 60 days after the case is submitted to it.
In fact, if government agencies follow the rather bizarre theory that a case filed should suspend action then all one has to do to prevent COA from acting on anything is to file a case and the project can die of old age and thus subvert the government's program, as what COA is doing to the people of this province and city.
To me what COA is doing (or not doing) can even be a crime against the people for the jobs and opportunities that are laid pending until the gods of COA decide.
If indeed the reason for the delay is what Bayhon says are the “defects” why is it that Bayhon is declaring it and not COA? Is Bayhon or SM Prime privy to the inner circle of COA, meaning COA Proper or into the thinking of the COA chairperson, Pulido-Tan?
Is Bayhon testing the waters by telegraphing the position of COA?
Bayhon exclaims that the “fault lies with the provincial officials and not with SM.” Who is claiming it's SM's fault? I do not know of any statement from provincial officials blaming SM, not even the many resolutions that had been passed which all asked COA to act. None has blamed SM.
Is this a case of a stricken conscience?
The Pontius Pilate stance of SM is funny because, at the same time, he lawyers for COA by claiming that the procedure in this case was wrong. Is that not for the court or COA to decide? Or does Bayhon already know what the decision of the court or COA would be?
And why can't COA speak for itself? By appearing to be lawyering for COA, is he not indeed establishing what we had been saying all along – close relationship between SM and COA?
Bayhon has sanctimoniously declared that COA is doing its job. For us here, COA is not doing its job in consonance with law or even civilized relations by not even answering letters.
If blame is being raised by this province, it is on COA not SM. However, can we stop people from speculating that SM and COA are allies in this case considering that the law firm of the COA chair is legal counsel and her husband is a stockholder and corporate officer of SM companies?
The danger is when people, thinking of SM leaning on COA would take it against SM. SM's record here is not exemplary and the recent reports of SM's business strategies like in Baguio and other places can degenerate into a backlash.
Citizens cannot fight COA, at least at this stage, but they can take their anger at SM. I suspect that is already happening, the reason that Bayhon has come out with a statement that people are blaming SM. Maybe that is so.*
back to top