“PRODUCE the contract first.”
This is the City Legal Office’s opinion on the P33.32 million bill to the city government from the private architectural firm, Espina, Perez-Espina & Associates, seeking payment for their professional fees that they rendered on the design and supervision of the ongoing construction of the new Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC).
City Lawyer Bernard Inocentes Garcia of the City Legal Office, whose opinion was sought by the City Council on the architectural firm’s bill, said there is no legal basis for the city government to pay the firm.
“This Office finds that the city government has no basis to pay Espina, Perez-Espina & Associates the amount of P33,320,000 for the architectural and engineering design and supervision in the construction of the Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC) unless the notice of award signed by the city mayor and the BAC (Bids and Awards Committee) resolution are produced,” read the opinion which was approved by City Attorney Joseph Bernaldez.
The legal office pointed out that the firm could not present the needed documents to prove that they were formally contracted by the city to undertake the engineering design and supervision of the project. These documents include the BAC Resolution and the Notice of Award signed by the mayor.
In a billing sent to Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña, Espina, Perez-Espina and Associates presented a detailed breakdown of their billing for professional services in the architectural and engineering design and supervision of the CCMC.
They pegged the architect’s fee at P42.5 million. This amount refers to four different phases of the construction namely “schematic design phase (P8.5 million), design development phase (P8.5 million), contract document phase (P21.2 million), and construction phase (P4.2 million).
But they also indicated in the billing that the P8.5 million fee for the schematic design phase will be pro-bono or free. This makes the total architect’s fee P38 million only including 12 percent value-added tax (VAT).
But for the billing sent by the firm as of June, they only asked P29.75 million of the total fee plus 12 percent VAT of P3.57 million for a total of P33.32 million.
The billing was referred to the Cebu City Council in a previous session where Councilor Margarita Osmeña and Vice Mayor Edgar Labella recalled that the firm of the Espinas during the previous administration said that it would not demand payment for their services.
The Espinas were brought in by former Mayor Michael Rama to help the city on the design of the new CCMC.
The City Council then referred the matter to the City Legal Office, seeking its legal opinion.
Sought for comment on this, a representative of the firm clarified that only a portion of their service was agreed to be rendered by them for free.
“We can’t answer questions at this time. All I can say is that it was agreed before that only the conceptual design was free,” Architect Miko Espina told Cebu Daily News in a phone interview.
It was Architect Espina and Dr. Shawn Espina who worked on the design of the hospital during the previous administration of Mayor Rama.