Press Release
February 18, 2009


The World Bank has evidence of collusion among construction firms that participated in the bidding of WB-funded road projects in the country which prompted it to ban three Filipino and four foreign contractors, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) said today.

Pimentel said Leonard McCarthy, WB Vice President for Institutional Integrity (INT), has made it clear to him that the Bank has "made no judgment" on whether anti-graft laws of the Philippines have been violated although it has furnished to the Department of Finance and Office of the Ombudsman a referral or summary report of its investigative findings, together with accessory documents.

"Because the Referral Report contained sensitive information which may be relevant to investigation in the Philippines and made no judgment as to whether the laws of the Philippines had been violated, it was shared on a strictly confidential basis to allow the investigative authorities in the Philippines to undertake their own investigation and reach their own conclusion," McCarthy told the senator in a letter dated Feb. 13.

McCarthy also said that the WB-INT prepared a Notice of Sanctions Proceedings that included evidence necessary for the respondent contractors to answer the allegations that they had engaged in sanctionable practices under the Bank's own legal framework and for the Ombudsman to proceed with her investigation.

Pimentel said the evidence of alleged collusion, fraud and other corrupt practices gathered by WB investigators provided the basis for the Bank's decision to blacklist three Filipino construction companies - EC de Luna Construction Corp., Cavite Ideal International Construction and Development Corp. and CM Pancho Construction, Inc. - and four foreign construction firms - China Road and Bridge Corp., China Geo-Engineering Corp., China State Construction Corp. and China Wu Yi Co. Ltd. that were doing road-building projects in the country.

The letter of the WB official was in reply to a letter sent by Pimentel on Feb. 3 in which he requested the international funding institution for copies of the evidence in its possession that would help the Philippine Senate and other investigative agencies in looking into the alleged rigging in the awarding of WB-funded projects.

He sent a similar letter to WB President Robert Zoellick and Vice President James Adams for East Asia and the Pacific Region.

McCarthy pointed out that the documents were tailor-made to meet the Bank's "internal requirements." However, he said the referral report and accompanying documents furnished by the Bank to Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez "constitute the relevant body of information for the Ombudsman to consider carrying out the investigation she deems appropriate."

Pimentel expressed dismay that the government has virtually exonerated the three Filipino contractors blacklisted by the WB. They were only suspended for 15 days by the Department of Public Works and Highways but they are still qualified to bid for public works projects aside from being allowed to continue projects already awarded to them.

"I deem it utterly unacceptable that thieves who have drained the resources intended for our people should ever be allowed to get away with their thievery with only a rap on the knuckles as it were," he said.

Pimentel has filed a bill that seeks to ban firms found engaged in corrupt practices by international lending agencies like the WB from participating in all public works projects.

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