SBMA execs, 2 others face graft raps | Inquirer News
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SBMA execs, 2 others face graft raps

By: - Reporter / @cynchdbINQ
/ 10:16 AM April 16, 2014

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales. INQUIRER file photo

MANILA, Philippines—The Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the indictment for graft of 18 current and former top officials of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) for manifest partiality and evident bad faith in awarding a contract to port operator Harbour Centre Port Terminal Inc. in 2010.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales approved a 32-page joint resolution on April 7 recommending the filing of charges for violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019 in the Sandiganbayan against former SBMA Chair Feliciano Salonga, former Administrator and CEO Armand Arreza, Senior Deputy Administrator Ramon Agregado, former Senior Deputy Administrator Ferdinand Hernandez, former Deputy Administrator Ma. Cristina Millan, Deputy Administrator Marcelino Sanqui and former board members Edralino Cajudo,  Antonio Rex Chan, Ricardo Coscolluela, Angelita DJ Cruz, Teodoro del Rosario,  Jorge Estanislao, Ma. Angela Garcia, James Lorenzana, Ma. Victoria Pineda, Stefani Saño,  Jennifer Khonghun-Ting and Eddie Tamondong.

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Also to be charged are Reghis Romero II and Michael Romero, chair and CEO, respectively, of Harbour Centre.

The Ombudsman said that as officers and beneficial owners, the Romeros were at the receiving end of the unwarranted benefits as they failed to show that the company was legally entitled to its grant.

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“Respondents’ above-described acts readily show that they acted in conspiracy, that is, they came to an agreement concerning the commission of a felony and decided to commit it,” the Ombudsman said.

On Feb. 24, 2010, SBMA entered into a 25-year joint venture agreement (JVA) with Harbour Centre for the development, operation and management of the naval supply depot and the ports in Boton, Alava, Rivera and Bravo.

The terms of reference of the agreement granted Harbour Centre concession as exclusive port operator of the five ports and exclusive handler of foreign and domestic cargoes for the entire zone.

In exchange, SBMA was to receive a fixed and guaranteed share of $32 million for the 25-year agreement, as well as a variable revenue share.

Port operators Amerasia International Terminal Services Inc. and Subic Seaport Terminal Inc., however, contested the award to Harbour Centre and subsequently filed separate complaints of graft.

The Ombudsman said SBMA officials “displayed manifest partiality and evident bad faith in the performance of their functions.”

It cited the guidelines issued by the National Economic and Development Authority that a JVA should only be executed after the conduct of the competitive challenge (bidding) where a private sector participant has been declared the winner and issued a notice of award.

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TAGS: Conchita Carpio-Morales, Graft, Harbour Centre Port Terminal Inc., SBMA, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority
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