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Ombudsman presses graft raps vs Tupas Sr., 5 others


05:48 AM March 4th, 2011

By: Kristine L. Alave, March 4th, 2011 05:48 AM

MANILA, Philippines—The Office of the Ombudsman Thursday affirmed the corruption charges against Iloilo Gov. Niel Tupas Sr. when it dismissed the latter’s plea to overturn a 2010 indictment for violation of anticorruption laws.

In a nine-page decision, the Ombudsman’s Field Investigation Office (FIO) denied the motions for reconsideration filed by Tupas and his co-accused—five members of the Montesclaros family—of the corruption charges filed against them in connection with the construction of the Iloilo airport.

Motion lacks merit

“Going over the arguments of the parties and the evidence on record, this office is of the view and so holds that the motions for reconsideration of Governor Tupas Sr. and the Montesclaroses lack merit,” the FIO said. The decision was approved by Special Prosecutor Wendell Barreras-Sulit.

Tupas Sr. is the father of Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr., chair of the House justice committee which is hearing the impeachment complaints against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez.

Another of Tupas Sr.’s sons, Raul, is married to a daughter of one of the co-accused, Marianito Montesclaros.

The corruption charges stemmed from Tupas Sr.’s issuance of a permit to crush sand and gravel to Melvin Requinto to be used in the construction of the New Iloilo Airport, despite Requinto’s lack of expertise and qualifications, the Ombudsman said.

After receiving the permit, Requinto executed a deal with the Montesclaroses to operate his gravel-crushing plant.

The FIO said the issuance of the permit to Requinto and his subsequent deal with the Montesclaros were anomalous in several ways.

The Ombudsman said the company that came out of the Requinto-Montesclaros deal did not have complete processing permits from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

And when he issued the permit, Tupas Sr. knew that his daughter-in-law, Binky April Montesclaros Tupas, and her father were involved in Requinto’s project, the Ombudsman said.

Illegal crushing operations

“The FIO adds that accused is in the best position to know that MMEI [the company] was using Requinto’s Isag [industrial sand and gravel] permit to conduct illegal crushing operations of raw materials extracted from other areas without the necessary mineral processing permit from the DENR,” the decision read.

Tupas Sr.’s relationship with the Montesclaroses gave Requinto’s company “unwarranted benefits and an undue advantage,” the Ombudsman said.

Thus, despite the violations committed by the firm, Tupas Sr. “did not lift a finger” [against them], the decision said.

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