De Lima: Senate should probe blacklisted Chinese firms in ‘Bangon Marawi’ program

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The Senate should examine the capability of Chinese firms which have cornered construction contracts under the P51.64-billion recovery and rehabilitation program for war-stricken Marawi City, Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima said today.

De Lima, who is the new chairperson of the Senate social justice, welfare and rural development, filed Senate Resolution No. 756 seeking a Senate inquiry into these multi-billion government transactions involving Chinese firms that have negative track records.

“The Philippines should not be forced to provide business opportunities to companies previously found as having engaged in corrupt practices, even if the periods of blacklisting have already lapsed,” she said.

Task Force Bangon Marawi has reportedly chosen the Bangon Marawi Consortium (BMC) composed of five Chinese and four Filipino companies to rehabilitate the 250-hectare main battle area in Marawi City.

Of these five Chinese companies, two have actually been blacklisted by the World Bank for purportedly engaging in collusive practices during the public bidding for the Philippine National Roads Improvement and Management Program.

These two firms that were blacklisted by WB in 2009 are China State Construction Engineering Corporation Ltd., (CSCEC) and China Geo Engineering Corporation (CGEC) which were banned to get government projects for six and five years, respectively.

The former justice secretary pointed out that these two blacklisted Chinese firms are reportedly “state-owned enterprises” and thereby, state funds from China would be eventually used.

“There is a great concern over the independence of the Marawi project from Chinese government influence,” she said.

While the blacklisting of these Chinese firms may have long lapsed or that it was the World Bank that blacklisted them, De Lima maintained that the best interests of the country, especially among the displaced residents of Marawi, should remain paramount.

“It would be detrimental to the interests of our country not to give credence to the findings of the World Bank, especially due to the fact that these firms were blacklisted due to corrupt practices,” she said.

“The Philippine government should prioritize the interests of our countrymen in Marawi and should operate free from any questions on our independence and integrity,” she added.

The ground-breaking of the rehabilitation of the so-called “Marawi ground-zero” is scheduled to take place this coming June 21, and the construction is estimated to last until 2021.

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