MANILA -- The private contractor of the suspended Barangay Health Station (BHS) project of the Department of Health (DOH) has sought the intervention of the Construction Arbitration Industry Commission (CIAC) on the uncollected fees for the multi-billion-peso government project.
"We were compelled to resort to the arbitration committee for the DOH to finally settle its obligation. So CIAC will determine how much is due to the contractor and how much in total that we can claim from DOH," lawyer Julieanne Jorge, member of the board of directors of J. Bros Construction Corp., told a press briefing in Manila on Wednesday.
CIAC is an arbitration tribunal under the Department of Trade and Industry, where contractors can file claims for terminated contracts.
Jorge said they filed the case before CIAC last June 11 after the DOH repeatedly failed to settle its obligation.
The contractor alleged that the DOH had failed to identify the sites where the BHS would be built when the project was rolled out in January 2016.
"It seems di naman sila nakapag-validate ng mga sites nung nagsimula ang kontrata (It seems they were not able to validate the sites when the contract started)," she said.
"The Secretary (Francisco Duque III) has continually ignored our request for an audience with him," Jorge said, adding that the problem began during the stint of former health secretary Paulyn Ubial, which spilled over to the term of Duque.
"The bottom line is, they did not make the payment for the billing as they cannot interpret what is stipulated in the contract," she said.
Jorge said it was clearly stipulated under the guidelines issued by the DOH under Section E of Department Order No. 2016-0133 issued on May 13, 2016 that "after completion of minimum (200) units of the Health Stations, the contractor may submit a request for progress billing."
She claimed that Ubial even consulted the Department of Public Works and Highways on the guidelines.
"The DPWH told them that DOH has to pay based on the works accomplished. Pero hindi yun sinunod ng DOH (But this was not followed by DOH)," Jorge said.
Upon the implementation of the contract during the time of former health secretary Janette Garin, the DOH paid PHP1.2 billion to the contractor for mobilization fees.
To date, the contractor alleged it spent a total of PHP2.1 billion for Phases 1 and 2 of the project.
J. Bros billed the DOH for 33 percent of the work completed amounting to PHP1.6 billion. The company wrote a letter to the DOH, after the agency repeatedly refused to pay the fees for the accomplished work based on the contract.
Meanwhile, Health Undersecretary Enrique Domingo said the agency has formed a task force to look into the matter, noting that the DOH is ready to face both the private contractor and CIAC.
"Para makita natin kung sino ang may obligation at magkano (So we can determine who has an obligation and how much)," he said. (PNA)