ICC to be completed in time for APEC summit next year
Jennifer P. Rendon (The Philippine Star) - December 4, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The construction of the allegedly overpriced Iloilo Convention Center (ICC) will be completed before the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit next year, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said yesterday.

The P700-million ICC, considered as Senate President Franklin Drilon’s pet project, is being eyed as the venue for the APEC ministerial meetings in Iloilo.

However, DPWH-Region 6 recently declared a failure of bidding for phase two of the ICC construction, which covers the painting, tile works, plumbing, installation of electrical and mechanical features, and sphinx aluminum clogging.

DPWH regional director Edilberto Tayao admitted that the controversy hounding the ICC have somehow affected the construction of the building.

He said some contractors might have had reservations about joining the bidding for phase two of the construction for fear that they might be dragged into allegations of overpricing.

The DPWH-Region 6 has scheduled a re-bidding in early January 2015, and Tayao hopes that many eligible and qualified contractors will participate.

“Granting that the construction for phase two will start in February 2015, it is safe to say that the ICC building will be completed by June or July,” he added.

As of Tuesday, Tayao said phase one of the ICC construction is 97.4 percent complete.

Phase two has a budget of P200 million, part of the P700-million budget for the whole ICC construction project.

The site development, which will cost P20 million to P30 million to be sourced from DPWH savings, might be done simultaneously with the phase two works.

Tayao said the DPWH has revised its estimates to cover the cost of the building and exclude the items for site development following the failure of the bidding for phase 2.

“But it’s very minimal. The revision will also harmonize with the proposed bidding of the operations and management of the building,” he explained.

Evidence of overpricing submitted

Some quarters have alleged that the ICC was overpriced. The cost of the building was pegged at less than P500 million, with the budget coming from the Priority Development Assistance Fund and the Disbursement Acceleration Program allowances given to Drilon. The Department of Tourism (DOT) has a share of P200 million.

Former Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel Mejorada yesterday submitted to the Senate Blue Ribbon committee what he claimed was his evidence of overpricing in the ICC.

He submitted an alleged copy of the deed of donation entered into between Megaworld Corp. and the DOT for the parcel of land on which the ICC is being built.

Mejorada was earlier criticized by senators for his admission before the committee hearing that he did not have any evidence to support his claims of overpricing in the ICC.

But he said his examination of the deed of donation led him to conclude that the agreement entered into by Megaworld and the DOT was actually a joint venture.

In the agreement, Megaworld would provide the property with the understanding that the DOT would construct the convention center.

Mejorada noted that it was clearly stated in the agreement that the total cost of the project would only be P200 million and that it would be completed by February 2015.

During the Blue Ribbon hearing, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson said that the two phases of the ICC project would cost a total of P747 million.

“But according to the proposed construction design submitted by Megaworld, the cost would only be P200 million. So all public funds that went above P200 million is considered stolen and an overpricing,” Mejorada said.

He claimed that Drilon, as the person who came up with and pushed for the construction of the ICC, is the one who benefited from the overpricing.

Mejorada, a former consultant of Drilon, said that the Senate President himself came out with varying figures regarding the cost of the ICC.

Mejorada said that based on the speeches delivered by Drilon, the cost quoted by the Senate President for the ICC went up from P300 million to P450 million to P1 billion.

Mejorada aired his suspicion that the first hearing conducted by the Blue Ribbon committee into the ICC project was the last, which is why he opted to submit a memorandum to the committee. He appealed to the committee to consider his evidence even if it would no longer allow him to testify.

“I’m hoping that this will trigger an uproar, will trigger outrage among the people, especially those who understand what contracts are all about,” he said. – With Marvin Sy, Danny Dangcalan

AS OF TUESDAY CONSTRUCTION COST DRILON ICC MEGAWORLD MEJORADA MILLION SENATE PRESIDENT TAYAO
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