MANILA (Mabuhay) – Senate President Franklin Drilon and other officials are facing graft and plunder charges over the alleged overpricing of the P700 million Iloilo Convention Center, which is being built by the same contractor that built the controversial P2.2 billion Makati City Hall Building II.
Manuel Mejorada, former Iloilo provincial administrator, said he filed criminal and administrative complaints before the Ombudsman for “offenses committed in the procurement and implementation of the Iloilo Convention Center (ICC).”
The charges include plunder, malversation of public funds, dishonesty and grave misconduct, and violation of Sections 3(e) and 3(g) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Practices Act.
Aside from Drilon, the other respondents are: Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson, Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez, Mark Lapid, administrator of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority; Public Works and Highways Undersecretaries Jaime Pacanan and Romeo Momo, DPWH Regional Director Edilberto Tayao; Marilyn Cruz of DPWH Region VI; W.V. Coscolluela and Associates represented by company president William Coscolluela; and Hilmarc’s Construction Corp. represented by company president Efren Canlas.
In his complaint, Mejorada said he has evidence that will prove the construction of the ICC is overpriced by P488 million since its total cost should only be P192 million. Mejorada served as Iloilo provincial administrator from 2001 to 2010 under Gov. Niel Tupas Sr.
Construction of the convention center started in December 2013 and is scheduled for completion in March 2015.
Kabataan party-list Rep Terry Ridon earlier filed a resolution calling for a House probe on Hilmarc’s for clinching several big-ticket government projects, including the ICC which he claimed is overpriced.
He earlier said Hilmarc’s also figured in the anomalous multimillion Business Process Outsourcing Incubation Contact Center (BPO-ICC) project of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) that the Commission on Audit (COA) halted back in 2009 due to several irregularities. (MNS)