Customs’ deferment of bidding explained
We write to clarify a few key points in the news report titled “Customs X-ray machines may be overpriced; bidding deferred,” which was written by Gil Cabacungan (Second Front Page, Inquirer, 7/11/13).
Contrary to the report, it was the Bureau of Customs’ (BOC) Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) I chaired that deferred the submission and opening of bids initially scheduled on July 10, 2013. This had to be done based on a memorandum sent to the BAC chair by the Technical Working Group (TWG) in view of the clarifications sought and concerns raised by certain prospective bidders.
Necessarily, all prospective bidders had to be informed in writing that the BOC does not have in-house technical experts who can provide immediate advice to address all concerns; and, thus, the TWG would need more time to conduct research, make comparative analyses and finally submit its recommendations with respect to the technical specifications required and sought by the procuring agency.
We are now considering the possibility of engaging the services of a third party consultant in order to ensure that all possible technical and financial concerns are addressed.
As to the recommendation by the TWG that the (X-ray) machines must be compliant with the minimum standards set by the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) is now in the process of seeking the lifting of the country’s current Category 2 classification from the US Federal Aviation Administration. Requiring compliance with these minimum standards is in line with our efforts to assure the public of our determination to uplift and upgrade the country’s security and safety standards at our international ports of entry.
It bears emphasizing that the TWG recommendation was not meant to favor US-made machines or exclude suppliers from Germany, China, Australia, etc., as implied. A survey of equipment available in the market would reveal that not only machines made in the United States may be classified as TSA-compliant. In fact, the TWG noted that several models of Smiths Detection brand X-ray devices, which are made in Germany, are TSA-compliant. The same is true for Gilardoni and CEIA products, both Italian brands. Of course, this is without prejudice to the adoption of any further recommendations by the TWG in regard to the foregoing.
Rest assured that I would like nothing more than to ensure that the processes and measures in place at the BOC are aboveboard and formulated with the best interests of the Philippines in mind. The order deferring the submission and opening of bids cited earlier in this letter was made accordingly.
—JUAN LORENZO T. TAÑADA,
Bureau of Customs
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