ILOILO CONVENTION CENTER: Mother of all DAP scams

Press release

January 30, 2020

Front view

 

ICC lease contract ‘onerous’ – Mejorada

 

The lease contract awarded to an Iloilo-based company to operate and manage the Iloilo Convention Center four years ago is “onerous, lopsided and grossly disadvantageous to the government”, former Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel “Boy” Mejorada said.

In a six-page complaint filed with the Office of the Solicitor General on Tuesday, Mejorada said the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) can expect to generate only P74 million in rentals over a period of 25 years, which is less than 10 percent return-on-investment (ROI) based on total expenditures of around P750 million.

Mejorada asked Solicitor General Jose Calida to conduct a review pursuant to a directive of President Rodrigo R. Duterte to look into onerous contracts between the government and private entities.

The contract should be “rescinded, revoked and nullified”, Mejorada said.

“This contract is the mother of all scams,” he said.

Mejorada also wrote a similar letter to Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat.

In his complaint, Mejorada said the lease, operate and manage (LOM) contract signed by and between TIEZA and Premier Islands Management Corp. on March 11, 2016 violated the terms of reference (TOR) issued for this purpose.

The TOR, for instance, used only P330 million as the “asset valuation” for the ICC, which is less than half of the actual expenditures, he said.

He said the actual expenditures of P750 million came from then TIEZA Assistant Chief Operating Officer Jethro Nicolas Lozada.

He said TIEZA removed the P300 million that was spent for the project from the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) in order to bring down the asset value and make the lease payments feasible to potential bidders.

“There was no legal basis in just writing off the P300 million from the books of TIEZA for the ICC,” he said.

It appears that then DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson waived off the recovery of the DAP money spent for the project during a meeting of the TIEZA board, he said.

“That is a blatant violation of COA rules and regulations in the disposition of public funds, an act constituting economic plunder,” he said.

Moreover, he questioned the adoption of P330 million as asset valuation.

With the actual expenditures placed at P750 million, and the write-off of P300 million, there is still P120 million that is not accounted for, he said.

It is common practice among real estate developers to recover the capital investments after 4 to 6 years, he said.

“That means within that period, a 100% recovery of the capital is achieved,” he pointed out.

In the case of the ICC, the total amount of fixed annual revenues and percentage share of gross sales won’t even reach 10% after 25 years, Mejorada said.

Mejorada said this asset valuation doesn’t take into account the value of the 1.7-hectare lot on which the ICC stands.

At a conservative price of P30,000 per sqm., the lot itself was worth P510 million, he said.

“In real terms, the real value of the ICC for purposes of computing the ROI should be P1.25 billion,” he said. “And that is a conservative amount,” he added.

Mejorada said the TIEZA violated the TOR in awarding the contract to PIMC.

“First, the indicative fixed annual revenue of 1% of the asset valuation was P3.3 million for the first year,” he said.

However, the contract set the fixed annual revenue for the first year at only P1.2 million, he said.

He said the percentage share from gross revenues in the ICC operations was fixed at 15% for each year.

But in the contract, the percentage share was only 5%, he added. (30)

 

 

Lying through his teeth (Part Two)

P/Major Rodney Raymund Baloyo IV lied so badly that it’s hard to believe any person with average intelligence would buy his story. But there’s one individual who apparently still holds to the sanctity of Baloyo’s testimony: his boss way back in November 2013, now P/Director General Oscar Albayalde.

That’s incredible.

It’s a basic principle in military leadership that a commander must be informed of everything that goes on under his watch at all times. And this dictum is taken very seriously at all levels of command in the armed forces and the national police. No subordinate will even think of doing anything without his commander’s knowledge and approval. The consequences are dire.

This is particularly true for a commander and his intelligence officer. If there is anybody in the unit that a commander trusts over and above anybody else, it’s the intelligence officer. After all, he is the eyes and ears of the commander.

Put these facts together and one reaches the inevitable conclusion that there is a far deeper bond that ties the two. Until Thursday, Albayalde continued to uphold the story of Baloyo, even after the public scolding he got from Senator Richard “Dick” Gordon. He simply refuses to abandon his subordinate. And his subordinate willingly went to jail to protect his version.

Questions. We can only raise questions.

  1. Did Albayalde know beforehand what Baloyo was planning to do, and he gave his approval?
  2. Granting that Albayalde had no knowledge, did he fail to discern the fakery in the after-action report filed by Baloyo?
  3. And after the scandal blew up, didn’t Albayalde look into the evidence of the CIDG and the PNP Regional Office 3 that led to the filing of criminal and administrative cases against Baloyo and his men?

It would seem that Albayalde deliberately ignored the evidence against Baloyo and his men. He played possum all the way. More than that, he was always protective of Baloyo. In a SunStar Pampanga story, Albayalde was quick to defend Baloyo when the latter was relieved of his post as Police Chief of San Fernando, Pampanga in January 2014. Baloyo was just due for schooling for promotion purposes, Albayalde said.

Hence, the biggest question: Is Albayalde covering up for Baloyo, just as Baloyo is covering up for Albayalde?

More than a hundred million pesos of shabu taken from the residence of Johnson Lee flooded the Central Luzon illegal drugs market in the weeks and months after the operation, forcing prices to go down.

Baloyo and his men went on a shopping spree for expensive vehicles than even Camp Crame noticed, and sent investigators headed by then CIDG chief Benjamin Magalong to conduct a probee.

Only Albayalde failed to see the truth, or so it seemed.

Is Baloyo protecting Albayalde to the extent that he was jailed for obvious lying? The Senate justice committee should pursue this angle. The nation deserves to know the truth.

Lying through his teeth (Part One)

The longer P/Major Rodney Raymund Baloyo IV told and retold his version of what happened on November 29, 2013 inside a plush subdivision in Mexico, Pampanga, the more his credibility sank into a morass of dishonesty. He lied blatantly, and when pressed, made changes to his story, perhaps thinking he could fool the Senate committee on justice and human rights, and the entire nation. Never before have I seen such a liar.

Baloyo had nothing to back his story except his word. On the other hand, a mountain of evidence told an entirely different story. This individual doesn’t deserve to wear that uniform and badge of an officer of the Philippine National Police a minute longer. An orange uniform of a Bilibid prisoner is what suits him.

BALOYO’S VERSION:

At around 2 p.m. on November 29, 2013, a confidential informant walks into the intelligence branch of the Pampanga provincial police office. This “asset” — slang for informants — narrates to Baloyo that there is a big-time drug pusher operating in the Woodbridge Subdivision, Lake Shore View in Mexico, Pampanga. The debriefing took one hour, and Baloyo takes the asset’s story as truthful. Immediately, he organizes a team of 13 including himself and proceeds to the target. He had sent ahead two policemen to conduct surveillance and rendezvouzed with them at a gasoline station at around 4 p.m.

Baloyo was able to raise P100,000 to be used as “marked buy-bust money” in a test-buy before making an arrest. He said it was a certain policeman named Santos who gave him the money. The money consisted of 100 P1,000 bills, with each paper note signed “by the operatives” as the marking.

At around 4:30 p.m., Baloyo carried out the buy-bust and arrested a Chinese national, Ding Wen Kun. They recovered 36 kilos of shabu and P300,000 in cash. The situation became tense when two security guards arrived and challenged the police officers, who were in civilian clothing. “They were armed with shotguns which were aimed at us,” Baloyo said.

To secure his men from this threat, Baloyo said he and his men boarded their vehicles, taking with them an estimated 200 kilos of shabu and a vault believed to have contained P55 million, and drove off toward the Pampanga provincial police office.

His immediate superior, then P/Senior Superintendent Oscar Albayalde, said there was a press conference at around 5:30 p.m. in which the seized shabu and cash were laid out on a table for presentation to the public. This last detail was confirmed by retired Police General Manuel Gaerlan, who was then deputy regional director for PRO 3.

This is the core of Baloyo’s story.

THE TRUE VERSION:

There was no buy-bust. It was an unauthorized raid on the residence of Chinese national Johnson Lee. Apparently, Baloyo had been monitoring the activities of Lee in the distribution of shabu from that house. His superior, Albayalde, knew about it. (After all, the first rule is that the commander must know everything that is happening.) Baloyo was looking for an opening to pounce on Lee. The opportunity came in the morning of Nov. 29. Baloyo learned there was a large shipment of shabu. He had to move fast.

But instead of applying for a search warrant, Baloyo and his men barged into the house of Lee. The Chinese national was able to jump over the fence and ran away to ask for help. He didn’t know that the intruders to his house were policemen. Lee went to the barangay hall to report the forced entry into his house.

The barangay officials telephoned the Mexico, Pampanga PNP station to report the alleged home invasion by the armed men and the presence of Lee in their custody. Three uniformed policemen were dispatched to investigate. Lee was taken aboard the patrol car back to his residence. There, he came face to face with Baloyo and his men, now ready to haul their loot.

This gave Baloyo a bonus. Instead of just the shabu, he had the suspect in custody. But then it wasn’t a legitimate drug buy-bust that he had planned. It was a money-making enterprise. Baloyo had removed a steel safe containing P55 million from the house. He struck a deal with Lee: open the safe and he will set the Chinese national free. Lee was only too glad to comply.

Two blue guards from the private security company assigned to Woodridge Subdivision arrived at the scene to investigate. Baloyo identified himself as the intelligence officer of Pampanga provincial police office. The security guards could not do anything. Baloyo and his group left, bringing with them their stash of shabu and cash. The three policemen, thinking everything was in order, also left and headed back to the municipal police station.

It was just before noon of November 29, 2019. (To be continued)

 

Under PMA Honor Code, Albayalde should resign

Never before has the Filipino people witnessed a Chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) censured publicly, with his sins paraded before live television.

This happened yesterday, Oct. 3, 2019, when Senator Richard “Dick” Gordon, chairman of the Senate Committee of Justice and Human Rights, blew his top over the glaring lies peddled by P/Major Rodney Raymund Baloyo IV on the issue of the “agaw-bato” incident in Pampanga that took place six years ago.

In his anger and frustration, Gordon excoriated PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde for “dropping the ball bigtime”, a term in sports journalism to describe a particularly bad error that cost a game for a team.

It was humiliating, to say the least. With that line, Gordon articulated the corrupt brand of leadership shown by Albayalde on the issue of the “ninja cops”, especially with the revelation by PDEA Chief Aaron Aquino, himself a retired Police General, that the PNP Chief had asked him not to dismiss Baloyo and his men three years ago.

In any language, such action of intervening for his former subordinates to prevent their dismissal from the service is improper, unethical and even illegal.

This public scolding didn’t seem to bother Albayalde. He acted as if it was just a routine day for him. He kept washing his hands even when it was clearly proven that both he and Baloyo were lying. He refused to accept responsibility for his actions. He even blamed Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong for bringing these facts into the open.

Albayalde should be reminded of the PMA Honor Code:

“We, the Cadets, do not lie, steal, cheat nor tolerate among us who do so.”

At the very least, he tolerated the web of lies peddled by Baloyo. More than that, Albayalde committed the unethical act of asking then PRO 3 Regional Director Aquino not to axe his men. Clearly, there was a deeper bond between him and Baloyo. As Senator Gordon put it, “everybody is convinced the incident took place in the morning and only you and Baloyo insist that it took place in the afternoon.”

Accept your big blunder. It is a ghost from the past that has haunted  you. Blame nobody else but yourself. The honorable thing to do is resign. That’s what PMA Cadets have been taught not only while at the country’s military academy, but for the rest of their lives.

Ninja cops issue turns uglier

That the so-called “ninja cops” from the Pampanga Provincial Police Office who faked a drug bust and made away with hundreds of millions of pesos worth of shabu are guilty is beyond question at this time. Even the reduction of the penalty in the administrative case from dismissal to demotion did not change the conclusion that these police officers committed grave misconduct.

The one big issue now is the revelation that PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde had asked a fellow general three years ago to tread softly on the case which was then undergoing review of the motion for reconsideration. Albayalde was looking after the welfare of his men. He didn’t want them dismissed no matter how grave their offense was.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Albayalde, who was Pampanga OIC-PD at the time, was fully aware of his men’s actions on November 29, 2013. No intelligence officer would dare embark on such an enterprise without informing his commander. Albayalde knew who the target was, and what his men were about to do. Everything came with his stamp of approval.

Now, Albayalde is PNP Chief. His men are occupying key positions in Central Luzon, albeit with one rank lower. It’s clear he condoned the actions of his men. Instead of giving them hardship assignments, he rewarded them. In effect, he didn’t just allow his men to recycle drugs and thereby make huge profits from this activity. He pampered them afterwards.

It took the bravery of former CIDG Chief Benjamin Magalong for these facts to come to the surface. And it incensed Albayalde. He made it appear that Magalong had ulterior motives in coming out into the open along with PDEA Chief Aaron Aquino. Magalong has reported that he has received death threats. It’s becoming a bitter word war that might spill out into something violent.

Albayalde is clinging to his post when the Honor Code would tell him he should resign. In other countries, being caught in that situation even lead the officials involved to commit suicide. We still remember General Angelo Reyes who took his own life than live in shame.

In case Albayalde hasn’t noticed, Filipinos are now looking at him with suspicion, if not contempt. In this face-off, I can bet that majority of Filipinos are on the side of Magalong.

Disgraceful, dishonorable conduct

No amount of explaining on the part of P/Director General Oscar Albayalde can justify his conduct (or misconduct) in making a phone call to then Police Regional Director Aaron Aquino of the PRO3 sometime in July 2016.

At that time, Albayalde was the NCRPO Director, the jumping off point to become PNP chief, a post he ultimately got last year. While a junior to Aquino at the PMA, Albayalde already wielded clout, and his phone call certainly helped postpone action on the dismissal of the so-called “ninja cops” of Pampanga.

It was wrong. It was improper. It was disgraceful.

Clearly, Albayalde had no other motive but to help his former subordinates when he was Provincial Director of the Pampanga Provincial Police Office hurdle their case.

In November 2014, then PRO3 Regional Director Raul Petrasanta ordered the dismissal of P/Supt. Rodney Raymundo Baloyo IV and 13 other PNP officers in connection with the fake buy-bust on a Chinese national in Mexico, Pampanga.

Investigators discovered that there was no buy-bust. What happened was that Baloyo and his team barged into the residence of a Korean national named Johnson Lee without a search warrant. Lee was able to jump over the fence and surrendered to barangay officials.

Baloyo was the intelligence officer of the Pampanga PNP at the time, a very powerful position.

Baloyo had entered Alibaba’s cave: inside were an estimated 200 kilos of shabu and P55 million. Instead of arresting Lee, Baloyo made a deal with him. Lee would be set free in exchange for P50 million that was in the house. A Toyota Fortuner was to go along with the package.

To make a show of a huge accomplishment, Baloyo reported recovering 38 kilos of shabu and P300,000 in cash.

The show was poorly scripted. It didn’t take long for PNP investigators to establish a trail of lies Baloyo had left behind.

What is clear is that these police officers had committed grave infractions of the law, not just PNP rules and regulations. And based on evidence, they were ordered dismissed.

Somehow, the order of dismissal took so long to be served upon them. The order was signed in November 2014. It was served on them on March 2, 2016. A motion for reconsideration was filed on March 14, 2016.

The MR was pending resolution when Aquino, now PDEA chief, assumed as PRO3 Regional Director. It was then that he got a phone call from Albayalde. The tone of the message was for Aquino to “review” the case. It was an unmistakable request to go softly on the case. When Aquino asked the reason for the request, Albayalde replied: “Mga tauhan ko yan.”

It took another year before the case was resolved, this time by Regional Director Amado Corpuz. The penalty was reduced to demotion by one rank. The Senators found it hard to believe this twist of fate. But it was revealed that Corpuz was the PMA classmate of Albayalde.

It was crystal clear for everybody involved in the investigation that Baloyo and his men had committed a very, very grave offense. Worse, it involved drugs. It came at a time when President Duterte was building on his war versus drugs. And yet here was Albayalde trying to extricate his men involved in a drug deal from their predicament.

I agree with Senator Dick Gordon: Albayalde should resign as PNP chief. His credibility has been tarnished. For his position, that is enough reason to bow out of the office. That’s if he understands what honor and integrity mean.

Mayor tagged as ‘narco’ builds stone palace in Iloilo

President Rodrigo Duterte named him as one of the “narco-politicians” on his list on August 7, 2016. Two years later, Calinog municipal mayor Alex Centena built a huge mansion using head-sized boulders from an illegal quarry and narra hardwood from the forests of his town worth about P40 million. It was like the municipal mayor sneering at the President. Here are some pictures of his palatial home.

Liar, thief

“A LIAR IS A COUSIN OF A THIEF”
This aphorism couldn’t have found a better example than Governor Arthur D. Defensor, Sr.
But more than a cousin, Defensor is both liar and thief.
That’s because Defensor doesn’t just lie; he also steals and breaks the law and flaunts it.
There are countless examples to prove this.
What’s worse, Defensor has fooled a lot of people into believing that he is a knight in shining armor, a clean and honest public official who pursues “reporma kag pagbag-o” as a platform of government.
Such dishonest and deceitful character of Defensor is demonstrated by the anomalous contracts for what is supposed to be his “legacy” projects at the Iloilo Capitol Grounds.

img_20190117_080953466584370889702707.jpg

Governor Defensor toured Architect Paolo G. Alcazaren around the Capitol Grounds on January 25, 2016. (Photo credit: Erly Garcia/PIO)

It started with the procurement of the contract for a landscape architect.

In 2016, Defensor engaged the services of Architect Paolo G. Alcazaren to prepare the conceptual designs for the landscaping and park development of the capitol grounds.
Their first meeting took place in January 2016. Defensor proudly announced that he was hiring Alcazaren to do the designs.
On December 9, 2016, Alcazaren came back to the capitol to present his drawings and perspectives. Defensor and members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan were present at his presentation.arch-alcazaren-presents-capitol-masterplan5556943543562139841.jpg
The conceptual design was met with laudatory approval.
Hence, the logical next step was for the procurement of professional services (consultancy) to carry out the master planning, urban design and landscape architecture.
This involve the actual preparation of the detailed design.
Defensor wanted to give the P1.582 million contract to Alcazaren.
But there was a hitch.
As project consultant who did the conceptual designs, Alcazaren was disqualified under RA 9184 and its revised implementing rules and regulations from taking part in the public bidding.
He had a conflict of interest because of his involvement in the conceptual design phase.
This is where the dishonest and deceitful, and even criminal, character of Defensor came in.
(To be continued)

If government wants to stop smuggling, then it should embrace XLOG technology

The country’s Bureau of Customs is leaking like a sieve, which explains why until now, smuggling of illegal drugs hasn’t abated. Shabu that is being sold on the streets of the archipelago are manufactured in China. There are no shabu laboratories in the country anymore. Several shipments worth billions of pesos have been intercepted, but this represents only a fraction of the shabu coming into the country. This leaves me wondering if President Duterte is raising his hands in surrender in the face of this pipeline of shabu flowing right under the noses of our customs bureau. Or put another way, it raises questions on whether the government even wants to stop smuggling of shabu.

This is rather tragic because putting a stop to smuggling could have been accomplished as early as the first quarter of 2018 with software developed by Filipino IT experts. Called “XLOG”, the software has been tested and retested, and consistently proved that the leaks in the system could be plugged permanently. It basically removes human intervention in the entire process, and with it, the opportunities for corruption.

If put to use by our Bureau of Customs, XLOG can eliminate delays in getting cargoes processed and released, and ensure that the government collects the right tariffs. What more can the government ask for? It will make exporters and importers happy, get rid of corruption, and increase collections. It’s a simple formula and it’s hard to understand why Customs officials refuse to embrace the technology.

On top of the crystal clear benefits it will bring to the government, XLOG is not even to cost the Bureau of Customs a single centavo. It is being offered entirely for free. All it needs to do is accept the technology, install the application at all ports of entry, and government will reap the rewards in one smooth movement. The technology has been proven effective in plugging the leaks in the present set-up. Government cannot possibly find a better solution to the smuggling problem and the corruption issue.

Of course, once in place, XLOG will eliminate corruption, which is perhaps the reason why there is resistance in the Bureau of Customs. No matter how many shake-ups will be carried out, the corruption will continue to plague the agency, for as long as officials are given broad discretion on letting a cargo shipment go through its checkpoints. Money, especially when it involves millions of pesos for a single transaction, can dilute the strongest of principles among officials.

Hence, we can only watch with despair as more and more smuggling take place on a daily basis at our ports of entry, both for sea and air cargo. We are losing the war, and government has only itself to blame. If Customs chief Isidro Lapena wants to change the situation, all he needs to do is get XLOG to come into the picture. It’s been waiting there on the sidelines. The picture can change in an instant: smuggling can be eliminated once the buttons for XLOG are pressed.

 

 

Drilon is a big liar

In all his statements about his share from the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) for his anomalous Iloilo Convention Center project in Iloilo City, Senator Franklin M. Drilon has consistently claimed that he got only P100,000,000 for the project.  On July 8, 2014, Drilon issued a press release entitled, “Drilon releases details of his P100-M DAP funds, invites public to scrutinize his DAP availment,” he said the amount was just P100-million. He said the same thing in a press release much earlier, on October 13, 2013, which is entitled, “DAP creation based on President’s power to realign funds.

But this claim is a big lie. And Drilon knew he was lying. That’s because when he first had to make such claim, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) had already issued three (3) SAROs, or the Special Allocation Release Order, with a total amount of P300 million that went into the Iloilo Convention Center project. This is confirmed by no less than the DPWH Regional Director, Engr. Wenceslao Leano, in a matrix of fund disbursements for the ICC, a digital copy of which is shown below:

cof

That these funds covered by the SAROs listed in the matrix were part of the DAP in 2012-2013 are confirmed by no less than Secretary Benjamin Diokno in his letter dated July 23, 2018, shown below:

letter-from-diokno.jpg

cof

This proves me assertion four years ago that Drilon had designed an evil scheme to steal public funds by the hundreds of millions of pesos from the ICC. The design of the ICC as specified by the Megaworld’s architect, W. Coscolluela and Associates, had a budgeted cost of only P200 million. During the Blue Ribbon committee investigation on November 13, 2014, Drilon admitted that the design and specifications for the building were part of the donation made by Megaworld. And the terms and conditions of the Deed of Donation spelled out how much the government was required to put up to fund the construction of the convention center. It was P200 million, no more, no less.

Drilon’s insatiable greed became runaway. He tried to get as much money from DAP. He wasn’t contented with P100-million under SARO No. A-12-01294 dated December 12, 2012. He got another chunk of P50-million under SARO No. A-13-00079 dated January 15, 2013. It only whetted his appetite; he got another P150-million on July 5, 2013 under SARO No. A-13-01134. He attempted to get more and spend more. But the heat became unbearable for the DPWH because of my exposes, and the faucet was shut down.

Drilon had announced during the Dinagyang festival in January 2014 that the ICC was going to cost P1-billion. Apparently, he had programmed the DAP releases to ultimately reach P1-billion. This is the reason why when the DAP faucet was shut down, the ICC was not 100% complete, which is the state it is now in. After spending nearly P750-million for the project, Drilon’s ICC lacks a number of components to truly make it world-class.

Now I am asking Drilon to ask the Filipino people for forgiveness. He was caught with his hand in the cookie jar. He tried to grab more than his share of the DAP. He put up deceptive ploys to hide the fact that he got more — much more — than his fellow senators. He should also apologize to his colleagues in the Senate for this deception.

This shouldn’t be unfamiliar territory for Drilon. In June 2005, he goaded and coached then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to face the nation and say, “I am sorry”, in the wake of the “Hello, Garci” scandal. Maybe he can rise on a question of personal and collective privilege on Monday and deliver his own “I am sorry” speech for being a liar and a thief.