Senate panel turns sights on Drilon’s ‘pet project’ in Iloilo
MANILA, Philippines – The Senate blue ribbon committee began on Thursday its investigation into the alleged overpricing of the Iloilo Convention Center (ICC), a pet project of Senate President Franklin Drilon.
The hearing by the committee headed by Senator Teofisto Guingona III was prompted by Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s resolution, seeking an inquiry into the alleged “anomalous transactions involving multibillions of pesos in public funds between Hilmarc’s Construction Corp. and certain local government units.”
The resolution specifically cited various news reports that the two-story ICC, which reportedly cost a total of P747 million, was overpriced by P531 million.
The money used for the project was also reportedly sourced out of Drilon’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) also known as “pork barrel” in 2012 and through the Disbursement Acceleration Program in 2013.
The issue was also the subject of a complaint filed at the Office of the Ombudsman by former provincial administrator Manuel Mejorada against Drilon and other officials involved in the construction of the project.
But the Senate leader has repeatedly denied that the project was overpriced, saying the allegation was “malicious” and “baseless” because it was coming from Mejorada, whom he said he fired as consultant.
Aside from Drilon, the committee also invited other resource persons like Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson, Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr., Robert Henson, president of Hilmarc’s, and Mejorada, among others.
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