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Angara files P61-M libel suit vs Palafox




03:26 AM September 23rd, 2011

By: Matikas Santos, September 23rd, 2011 03:26 AM

Senator Edgardo Angara. INQUIRER file photo

Senator Edgardo J. Angara has filed a P61-million libel suit against architect Felino Palafox Jr. who, Angara claimed, has been waging a “willful, wanton, reckless and malevolent campaign” against him.

In a statement released by his office Thursday, Angara said the amount consisted of P40 million in moral damages, P15 million in exemplary damages, a minimum of P6 million in litigation expenses and the costs of suit.

The case was filed before the Pasay regional trial court on Monday and the summons was served to Palafox on the same day.

Angara issued the statement a day after Palafox filed a graft complaint against the senator, as he accused the architect of being behind a letter that was sent to President Benigno Aquino III on July 7 which alleged that he was getting kickbacks for contracts and from investors at the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Authority (Apeco).

The letter that was marked “Private and Confidential” allegedly came from the Coalition Against Corruption (CAC).

Letter’s contents

The senator said the letter actually came from Palafox and accused Angara of pressuring then Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim to reject the bid by architectural firm Palafox Associates for the Tourism Master Plan of the Philippines.

The letter said Angara had threatened Lim’s confirmation as tourism secretary should Palafox win the bidding.

Angara said the letter also accused him of getting kickbacks for contracts and from investors at Apeco.

“The letter has the stink of Palafox’s ruse all over it,” said the lawmaker.

The senator recalled that in May, Apeco asked the Board of Architecture and the Board of Environmental Planning, both under the Professional Regulation Commission, to suspend the license of Palafox.

Similar case

Angara said officials of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) had filed a similar case against Palafox after the architect allegedly lost in the bidding for the preparation of the Subic Bay Freeport Comprehensive Master Plan Project.

“Palafox accused (then SBMA Chairman) Richard Gordon of protectionism and corruption, for which he was forced to issue a public apology to Gordon,” Angara said.
Angara said that Palafox used “his position as President of the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP), to convince the other members of the CAC – of which MAP is a member – to sign the letter that accused Angara and many others of corruption.”

Violation of code of ethics
On Tuesday, Palafox filed a complaint for graft and violation of the code of ethics for government officials before the Office of the Ombudsman against Angara who he said was interested in the money that he could earn from Apeco investors.

Also included in Palafox’s complaint were the Apeco board of directors, Angara’s sister, Aurora Governor Bellaflor Angara-Castillo, and his son, Aurora Representative Juan Edgardo Angara.

But Angara said that Palafox’s allegations were personally motivated, citing that his firm, Palafox Associates, was dismissed due to failure to “deliver his contractual obligations to Apeco.”

The firm was fired after “the designs it prepared were evaluated then rejected by the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), which found them unusable and flawed.” Angara said.

Palafox said that Angara and the Apeco board wanted to fast-track the development of the ecozone even though there were no feasibility studies, topographic and engineering surveys, and various permits, clearances, assessments and certificates.

Palafox said that his design for the project had taken into account a 100-year historical pattern of flooding. The soil, in some areas of the project, was also shown to be prone to flooding and soil liquefaction based on engineering surveys.

Angara said that Palafox has taken “every opportunity to defame” him “with actual malice and falsehoods” ever since the architect was dismissed from Apeco. With a report from Cathy C. Yamsuan, Philippine Daily Inquirer

Originally posted at 08:12 pm | Thursday, September 22, 2011

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