P3.9-B Malampaya infra works riddled with graft | Inquirer News
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P3.9-B Malampaya infra works riddled with graft

/ 12:19 AM January 25, 2013

Senator Teofisto Guingona III. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Corruption attended the P3.9-billion worth of infrastructure projects that were supposed to benefit Palawan and funded by the proceeds of the gas field in Malampaya off the western coast of the province, an administration senator yesterday said.

Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, chairman of the Senate committee on the accountability of public officials and investigations, validated the questions that environmentalist Gerry Ortega had raised about the misuse of Malampaya funds before he was killed two years ago.

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“Based on what we saw on the findings of the [Commission on Audit], Doc Gerry was right. On whether there was corruption, there was corruption,” Guingona told reporters following the Senate blue ribbon panel’s initial hearing on the alleged irregularities that cost the country billions of pesos.

Thursday was Ortega’s second death anniversary.

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Guingona said 355 projects worth P3.9 billion were not covered by documents required by the country’s procurement and auditing regulations.

“When the Commission on Audit (COA) arrived in Palawan, they were asking for documents but there were no papers given by the provincial government. So, they could not conduct their audit,” Guingona told reporters.

All projects not OKd by COA

“There are no documents even from the very basic document, the program of work. Under our rules, if you start a particular project, you have to make a program of work, followed by bills of materials,” he added.

Guingona said most of the questioned projects happened during the watch of former Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes, the principal suspect in the killing of Ortega.

Funds from the Malampaya Natural Gas Project for Palawan, Guingona said, were coursed through the provincial government, the city government of Puerto Princesa and the province’s two congressional districts.

“Out of the 355 projects constructed, all were disallowed by the COA. That is P3.9 billion. This is a staggering misuse of funds,” Guingona said.

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‘Mashed-potato’

The COA has recommended that the huge amount be returned to the country’s coffers. Government officials and private contractors have been charged in the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the misuse of funds.

“We have to conduct more hearings on why this happened,” Guingona said.

The senator said he would consider strengthening laws on infrastructure projects after the blue ribbon inquiry shall have been finished.

In a statement, Guingona described the roads constructed with the use of Malampaya funds as “mashed-potato” projects.

“Although costing scores of millions of pesos each, these projects involve incomplete and muddy roads and bridges, and school buildings left unfinished,” he said.

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TAGS: Gerry Ortega, Graft and Corruption, Infrastructure projects, Malampaya Natural Gas Project, Palawan, Teofisto Guingona III
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