Cebu mayor files graft raps vs solon, 8 others

- by Freeman News Service -

CEBU - The mayor of Madridejos town has filed graft charges against Rep. Clavel Asas-Martinez, her son - the mayor of Bogo town - and seven other town officials for alleged irregularities in the construction of a wharf in Bogo.

Madridejos Mayor Doroteo Salazar alleged that Martinez, Bogo Mayor Celestino Martinez III and the seven officials falsified public documents and misrepresented the capability of Bogo to undertake the P37-million Polambato wharf project.

The bidding and implementation of the project, Salazar claimed, was highly irregular, improper and anomalous.

Salazar echoed accusations he earlier had made public, such as that prices of materials used in the wharf's construction were bloated and that the project itself was overpriced.

The Martinezes, for their part, are threatening to sue Salazar for damages if the mayor cannot prove his allegations in court.

Salazar filed the complaint as his own project, the P25-million concreting of a provincial road in Madridejos, came under congressional scrutiny as requested by Rep. Martinez.

In his 27-page complaint with the Office of the Ombudsman, Salazar alleged that the Martinezes used their influence to put the wharf project on course.

Salazar cited a letter sent by the congresswoman to Mayor Martinez, dated July 16, 1999, informing him that Bogo should start building the wharf per the approved memorandum of agreement between the municipality and the Department of Public Works and Highways.

Salazar said Rep. Martinez had claimed to have in her possession the supposed approved memorandum of agreement when the document was executed only on Aug. 4, 1999.

The agreement stipulates that Bogo will only administer the project in accordance with the program of work, plans and specifications.

However, Salazar said the respondents violated the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act when they bid out the project on Sept. 13, 1999.

The bidding, Salazar alleged, was "rigged and railroaded" to favor the Philippine Rigid Construction Co. Even the conduct of the bidding, he claimed, was irregular.

The project was allegedly awarded to Rigid on the same day the bidding was conducted. The following day, Mayor Martinez issued a notice to proceed to Rigid, Salazar alleged.

According to Salazar, Public Works and Highways Secretary Gregorio Vigilar approved the program of work only on Nov. 29, 1999. The documents were forwarded to Manila on Oct. 13.

Salazar further alleged that the program of work was "grossly bloated" to defraud the government of millions of pesos in "ghost" work items and unnecessary equipment.

He said the rental of a barge, costing P2.6 million, was unnecessarily added to the program of work.

Salazar claimed Bogo padded the length of piles needed for the project and defrauded the government of not less than P5 million.

But the "biggest rip-off" in the project, Salazar alleged in his complaint, was the "tremendous overpricing on pile driving works," claiming that the cost of this item was placed at P13 million when all the government needed to spend was P3.5 million or even less.

The quantity of steel bars used in constructing the wharf was also overestimated, Salazar added, with the government supposedly losing P1.9 million.

Salazar said the Polambato wharf could be constructed at a cost of not more than P27 million, instead of P37 million, even if it was bid out.

Salazar said the implementation of the MOA should be canceled and the project turned over to the Cebu Port Authority.

He is asking the Ombudsman to stop all fund releases and require the municipality of Bogo to explain why the project cost has ballooned to P40 million.

But Rep. Martinez challenged Salazar to substantiate his claims, if not she will file counter-charges against him.

She said she is also collecting evidence against Salazar and will make the necessary moves soon. "This does not scare us at all," she said.

She said the Ombudsman might as well include in its investigation the "substandard" projects of Salazar, particularly the "deteriorating and unused" port in Tuburan. Salazar, who owns a construction company, built the port.

Aside from the Martinezes, Salazar named as respondents municipal planning and development coordinator Efifanio Don Arellano, municipal engineer Remiro Lepon, municipal treasurer Rhett Minguez, and bidding and awards committee members Santiago Oliamot, Roberto Coligado, Maribel Resma and Crisologo Damayo.











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