OPEN LETTER TO SENATOR T.G. GUINGONA III

Sir:

“Reject all forms of corruption that diverts resources from the poor.”

Those words were heard all across the nation from Pope Francis during his visit to the Malacanang Palace last Friday and reported extensively in mainstream and social media in the days afterwards.

I believe these words become more relevant to the work of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee which you chair.

On November 13, 2014, the Blue Ribbon Committee opened its investigation in aid of legislation into the alleged overpricing and other anomalies in the construction of the Iloilo Convention Center.

I believe it is the supreme duty of the Blue Ribbon Committee to pursue this investigation with a deeper sense of purpose and objectivity. The hearing on November 13, 2o14 barely scratched the surface of the anomalous transaction. Partly, it’s because the evidence I possessed at the time were circumstantial in nature. Second, there was palpable maneuvering by certain Senators, including Senate President Franklin M. Drilon, to prevent its Honorable Members from being able to fathom its depth and magnitude through the questioning of resource persons.

I appeal to you, Mr. Chairman, to give justice to the Filipino people, especially the poor, by ignoring party loyalty and bring to light the full scale of what is perhaps the biggest single instance of corruption in Philippine government. The Iloilo Convention Center is a giant monument of greed and lies, an ugly icon of the worst corruption that mars the platform of “matuwid na daan” upon which this Administration stands on.

I will come before this Honorable Blue Ribbon Committee with concrete evidence of how the fraudulent scheme was carried out, much of which came from the major players in the project. The evidence will establish beyond doubt how the ICC was used as a tool to divert and embezzle public funds from the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). It will demonstrate how DAP was indeed prone to abuse and misuse, which was the primary reason it was struck down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional and illegal.

With more certainty, I will show how the Government Procurement Reform Act was violated not just once, nor twice, but even thrice or more just to bring this evil plot to fruition. I will expose the lies and deceptions peddled by high-ranking public officials to cover up their flagrant acts of breaking the law. And with the power of subpoena wielded by this Honorable Blue Ribbon Committee, more documents to complete the true picture can be unearthed.

The Filipino people deserve to know the truth, Mr. Chairman. Please do not allow the Honorable Blue Ribbon Committee to be used as shield for the corruption it is mandated to expose, denounce and prevent by strengthening our laws. It has a sacred duty to expose corruption in all fronts, and not just confine itself to those committed by enemies of this Administration. Corruption wears all sorts of color and labels, and Liberal Party is not spared from this handiwork of the devil.

The nation puts much faith in your shoulders, Mr. Chairman. Please do not shirk from this responsibility. The very survival of this nation is at stake. The liberation of the poor from the bondage of poverty rests upon you.

Very respectfully yours,

MANUEL P. MEJORADA

Preventive suspension in ICC case sought

PRESS RELEASE

Former Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel Mejorada has asked the Ombudsman to issue preventive suspensions against two Cabinet members and five other officials charged in the alleged anomalies in the Iloilo Convention Center project, saying the evidence against them is strong and their continued stay in office might prejudice the investigation.

In a two-page motion filed December 17, Mejorada said the respondents in the administrative case are facing charges of dishonesty and grave misconduct which warrant their preventive suspension as they occupy powerful positions in the Department of Tourism, Department of Public Works and Highways as well as the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA).

Mejorada made public the document only yesterday to give time for its delivery by the Philippine Postal Corp. after the Christmas holidays.

Mejorada cited Section 9, Rule III, of the Ombudsman Rules of Procedure which empowers the Ombudsman to issue preventive suspension orders against respondents in an administrative case for a period not exceeding six months while a preliminary investigation is being conducted.

Charged in the administrative case are DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson, DOT Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr., TIEZA chief operating officer Mark Lapid, DPWH undersecretaries Jaime Pacanan and Romeo Momo, DPWH Region VI regional director Edilberto Tayao and BAC chairman Marilyn Celiz.

The project proponent, Senate President Franklin Drilon, is charged with them in the criminal case along with architect William V. Coscolluela and contractor Hilmarc’s Construction Corp.

Mejorada said he has received the counter affidavits of the respondents.

“After going through their voluminous counter affidavits and supporting documents, it becomes clear from their own testimonies that a giant fraud was committed in the ICC project,” Mejorada said.

In a statement, Mejorada said “the respondents themselves dug their own grave with their counter affidavits.”

He cited the admission of Coscolluela that the “value engineering” bid proposal submitted by Hilmarc’s did not meet his criteria and had to be revised with help from a structural design consultant he endorsed.

“That’s all I need to drive home the point that the award of the contract was illegal,” he said.

But he added that he found “an abundance of other evidence” from the counter affidavits of the other respondents who were forced to disclose records that were previously kept under wraps. (30)