MANILA (Mabuhay) — Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chairman Teofisto Guingona III on Tuesday confirmed his committee will investigate his own party-mate, Senate President Franklin Drilon, over the alleged overpricing of the P700 million Iloilo Convention Center.
Guingona said there is no reason why the Senate cannot investigate one of their own especially since similar investigations were done on opposition senators such as Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Juan Ponce Enrile and Bong Revilla.
“Ang importaneng prinsipyo dito patas na trato. Dapat walang color-coding,” he said.
Guingona said it is Drilon’s prerogative if he will inhibit from the investigation.
He said other senators can question the Senate President if he decides to show up in the Blue Ribbon Committee hearing set on November 13.
Other resource persons invited to the probe include Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson and Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr.
Drilon earlier said he will inhibit from the investigation but will answer all questions posed by senators.
Former Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel Mejorada earlier filed a plunder complaint against Singson, Jimenez, Drilon and other officials for the alleged overpricing of the ICC.
He claimed the building is overpriced by P488 million since the structure should only cost P192 million.
The former Iloilo official said Drilon kept changing the actual construction cost of the building, from P300 million in April 2012 to P450 million in November of the same year.
Singson, however, said the DPWH’s original estimate for the construction of the ICC was already at P700 million considering the height of the structure, which is comparable to a 7-storey building.
He also rejected claims that the ICC is similar to the P2.2 billion Makati City Hall Building II, which is also being constructed by Hilmarc’s Construction Corp.
“Excuse me naman. I just keep saying this is not a regular office building or a parking building. Hitsurang hitsura na lang. We wanted an iconic convention center for Iloilo,” he said. (MNS)