Pampanga lawmaker faces graft case for P612M worth of projects
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga, Philippines — A construction company listed as owned by the immediate family of Pampanga Rep. and Senior Deputy Speaker Aurelio Gonzales Jr. has bagged three multimillion-peso government flood-control projects, prompting a village official to file a complaint in the Office of the Ombudsman.
Gonzales, five of his family members, and four Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) officials were sued for alleged violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019) and Possession of Prohibited Interest by a Public Officer under Article 216 of the Revised Penal Code.
Terence Napao, village chief of Sto. Cristo and president of the Liga ng mga Barangay (league of barangays) in Mexico town, filed the 16-page complaint on Sept. 7, copies of which he sent to the media on Monday.
The projects in San Fernando and the adjacent towns of Mexico and Bacolor were “glaring examples of conflict of interest in public service, and obviously manipulated to favor the family-owned business of Congressman Gonzales,” Napao told the Inquirer in an email interview.
He described the legislator as a “known super-rich contractor in the province and a powerful ‘trapo’ [traditional politician].”
When reached by phone on Tuesday, Gonzales shrugged off the allegations and declined to comment, saying he has yet to receive an official copy of the case.
Roseller Tolentino, the DPWH director in Central Luzon, said in a separate interview that he would issue a statement after getting a copy of the complaint.
He assured that there was transparency in the bidding process because it was held online and posted on social media.
Citing general information sheets submitted to the Ombudsman, Napao claimed that the lawmaker owned 77 percent of the shares of A.D. Gonzales Jr. Construction and Trading Co. Inc. until 2015, when he held a 25-percent share.
According to Napao, Gonzales’ son Aurelio Brenz, a councilor in this capital, became the company’s president and majority shareholder, while the congressman’s daughter, Provincial Board Member Alyssa Michaela Gonzales, sits as secretary and treasurer.
Another son of the lawmaker is the company’s vice president while another daughter is a director. Also, a company director is an elder sister of the congressman, the complaint claimed.
The projects, which consisted of drain systems and dikes, were given notices of awards on Feb. 9, Feb. 24, and May 25.
The notices to proceed were issued on Feb. 21, March 7, and June 6, also this year, the Inquirer learned.