State firm execs face graft raps
VP of PNOC-EC among those charged in 9,000% overprice in P55M projectBy Jerry E. Esplanada
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Citing the Aquino administration’s “daang matuwid,” the chairman of the Philippine National Oil Company Exploration Corp. has filed graft charges with the Ombudsman against three top PNOC-EC officers for allegedly overpricing by up to 9,000 percent the renovation of the state firm’s headquarters at Bonifacio Global City.
Gemiliano Lopez Jr., also a former Manila mayor, named Lourdes Gelacio, PNOC-EC vice president for corporate services; Raymundo Savella, chairman of the bids and awards committee, and Ma. Rita Dayleg, manager of the human resources and administration department, as respondents in an 18-page complaint he filed on July 16.
Gelacio, Savella and Dayleg were accused of violating Section 3 of Republic Act No. 3019, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
Lopez said he filed the case “in line with President Aquino’s continuing thrust and mission to eradicate grafters and punish corrupt officials and employees and ultimately restore the people’s trust in the government.”
The 2010 PNOC-EC building renovation project, which had a budget of P55 million, “showed an overprice ranging from 100 to 9,000 percent,” he said.
“Clearly, the (43) contracts for the purchase of construction and renovation materials at overpriced costs were grossly and manifestly disadvantageous to the PNOC-EC, leaving the latter shortchanged by a hefty sum of money,” he added.
In his complaint, Lopez also sought the issuance of a preventive suspension order against the respondents.
“Their continued stay in office while the investigation is ongoing would enable them to tamper with evidence that is still in their possession or harass potential witnesses,” he said.
An investigation team, led by retired Court of Appeals Justice Myrna Dimaranan Vidal, earlier recommended the filing of a graft case, saying “the transaction for the renovation work done for the subject building was grossly and manifestly disadvantageous to PNOC-EC.”
In a July 14 memo to the PNOC-EC board, however, Gelacio dismissed the charges against her as “erroneous, baseless, unsubstantiated and malicious.”
Aside from Lopez, the board includes president Pedro Aquino Jr. and directors Leopoldo Petilla, Niel Tupas Sr., Rufino Bomasang, Luis Ma. Uranza, Rafael del Pilar, Francisco Iganaga Jr. and Armando Galimba.
Gelacio said the project was “done in a professional manner. Consultancyservices for architectural, engineering, design and project management were bid out.”
“The procurement law was properly observed for all contracts which were awarded to the lowest technically complying bidder. All contracts passed through the bids and awards committee,” she added.
The two other respondents—Savella and Dayleg—have yet to respond to the charges.
Lopez said that “instead of implementing the (three-phase) project and awarding it to a general contractor who would handle all the work, Gelacio’s team made piecemeal contracts for each and every aspect of the project.”
“For phases 1, 2 and 3, Gelacio’s team spent P69,330.33, P20,931.90 and P54,544.48 per square meter, respectively. However, when the PNOC-EC engineering department handled the project after its brief suspension, the projects cost only P735.74, P1,449.77 and P7,070.86 per square meter, respectively, for the same three phases,” he said.
He said it was “very clear that the costs incurred [by] Gelacio’s team were grossly overpriced and prejudicial to PNOC-EC.”
A case in point, he said, was the installation fee for the air-conditioning units which amounted to P23,272.73. “Interestingly, when the engineering department purchased air-con units, the installation was free of charge.”