Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia said she will face any graft complaint over her centerpiece project, the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC).
She said the Commission on Audit (COA) already cleared her of any irregularity in the additional work done by contractor, WT Contruction Inc.
A similar view was expressed by Deputy Ombudsman Pelagio Apostol , who had recommended dismissal of the case but was not upheld by the Ombudsman.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales gave the green light for a criminal and administrative investigation of Garcia and six other Capitol officials over alleged irregularities in the extra work worth P263.2 million done by the private contractor.
Her marginal note of approval on the final evaluation report was dated July 31, 2012.
Apostol said his office is preparing the complaint to be endorsed to the Preliminary Investigation, Administrative Adjudiciation and Review Bureau (PARB) in Manila.
“I will not backtrack but I bow to the decision of the Ombudsman,” Apostol said.
Governor Garcia said old issues were raised about the alleged violation of procurement and bidding rules in hiring WT Construction for additional work to complete the CICC.
“We have truth on our side, we will face any complaint. About the CICC we’ve made a presentation already even with the various sectors,” Governor Garcia told reporters yesterday.
The CICC in Mandaue City was built at a cost of over P800 million to be used as a venue of the ASEAN Summit in January 2007.
Businessman Crisologo Saavedra, the main complainant of the case, said he was happy with the Ombudsman decision.
“After many years, I’m vindicated,” he said. But Saavedra said he hopes that the respondents will be convicted soon.
He didn’t have anything against the Ombudsman who dismissed his accusations that the CICC was overpriced.
“There was no overpricing. Only over payment of works,” Saavedra said.
While the Ombudsman said there was no evidence that construction of the CICC was overpriced, it said the governor allowed WT Construction Inc. to handle “site development and other additional works without a contract.
Garcia and six other Capitol officials will be investigated for violating section 3, paragraph e of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
Garcia said she expects her political rivals to pursue the CICC case against her due to the coming elections.
Cebu Daily News tried to get the reaction of former Assistant OmbudsmanVirginia Santiago whose recommendation to proceed against Capitol officials was upheld but she begged off. Santiago retired from the anti-graft office last July.
Also facing investigation before the Ombudsman were Bids and Awards Committee chairman Eduardo Habin, Provincial Attorney Marino Martinquilla, Provincial Treasurer Roy Salubre, Budget Officer Emmy Gingoyon, BAC members Ernesto Biernes, Engr. Euly Pelayre.
The CICC at the Mandaue Reclamation Area was one of the key venues for the Asean summit in Jan. 2007. Its construction was completed in a record time of eight months. /Ador Vincent Mayol, Reporter with a report from Correspondent Carmel Loise Matus