Davide, 11 others face graft anew over P1.3 billion project
Mylen P. Manto (The Freeman) - February 14, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Anti-graft crusader Crisologo Saavedra has filed an amended graft complaint against Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III and 11 others for alleged conspiracy to enter an “anomalous” contract for the construction of the P1.3 billion Capitol resource center.

 

Saavedra said Davide signed a contract with the WT Construction without the authority from the Provincial Board. He claimed that the governor and the members of the Bids and Awards Committee composed of Lawyer Mark Tolentino (chairman); members Jone Siegfred Sepe, Hector Jamora, Danilo Rodas, and Donato Villa also violated the Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act and Republic Act 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act).

The other respondents are the members of the Technical Working Group Josefino Roberto, Edgar Carredo, Rey Marinas, Rica Marie Lanojan, and Chrissie Jane Iman. The officials of WT Construction were also impleaded in the complaint.

Saavedra asked the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas to prosecute the respondents before the court. He claimed that the respondents erred in signing and awarding the contract to WT Construction because it is allegedly not qualified to undertake the project of such magnitude.

“The WT Construction is disqualified because it did not qualify on the required 50 percent track record of similar project completed within the period of 10-year on its bid for the 20-storey, P1.3 Cebu Provincial project,” Saavedra said.

The bid evaluation reports submitted by the BAC and TWG, however, stated that the contractor had complied with and submitted well-organized documents.

“The eligibility and financial documents submitted by the bidder were carefully examined, evaluated, verified and validated and found to be complete, therefore we hereby recommend WT Construction, Inc. as the Lowest Calculated and Responsive Bidder,” the report read.

The project is set to break ground on Monday. It has an approved budget contract amounting to P1,313,007,470.39.  Saavedra is asking the anti-graft body to place Davide and other public respondents under preventive suspension pending investigation.

Meanwhile, Cebu Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale supports Davide’s decision to push through with the construction despite the lack of clearance from the National Historical Commission of the Philippines.

Magpale said the project is long overdue because it was planned in 2015 yet. She said the members of the board were consulted about it.

According to her, she listened and weighed all the arguments before making her decision to support the project.

 “Listening to the arguments long ago, now I fully support the governor’s decision… there has been a lengthy discussion that was allowed to hear all sides,” she told reporters.

 “It has become a political issue. They say it can be a source of graft and corruption and it has been a midnight deal. But since 2015, this has been planned. The board members agreed and we were consulted. Also, the governor has no track record of an overpriced infrastructure project,” she added defending the governor.

Magpale said the construction of the building will not harm any important structure in the Capitol compound.

She questioned why heritage advocates allowed the construction of high-rise buildings around the Capitol building when these are also within the so-called “buffer zone.”

“All buildings are already going up… (That argument) won’t apply already because all structures here are going up,” she said.

NHCP chairman Rene Escalante said the Capitol project did not have the clearance from the heritage commission. He warned that the provincial government runs at risk of being sued by the NHCP.

“At this point, hindi pa kami makasabi ng comment kasi walang structure na tinatayo, everything is still speculative, kaya lang ang sabi ko sa kanila, you have risks. Pwede niyo ituloy yan, and let’s see what will happen. It looks like it’s the court that will decide on this, kaya lang sabi ko, ayaw ko na sa korte tayo mag-uusap,” Escalante said in an earlier interview. — with May B. Miasco FPL (FREEMAN)

HILARIO DAVIDE III
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