Oil spill cleanup mess: Iloilo gov files graft rap
ILOILO CITY, Philippines—The Iloilo provincial government has filed criminal and administrative charges in connection with alleged irregularities in the cleanup program implemented in a town that was hit by an oil spill when a power barge was detached from its moorings at the height of Supertyphoon “Yolanda.”
Gov. Arthur Defensor Sr., representing the province, sued the president and four officials of Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (Psalm) and two officials of a private firm that won the contract to conduct a cleanup operation in Estancia town, which was hit by the leak of up to 900,000 liters of bunker fuel from a power barge owned by Psalm.
Psalm is a state firm that manages power plants or barges once owned by National Power Corp. (Napocor) while these assets have not been privatized yet.
In the 13-page complaint filed by Defensor in the Office of the Ombudsman, the governor also sued two officials of Kuan Yu Global Technologies Inc. (KYGTI), which won the P87-million contract to conduct the cleanup operation but which the provincial government said was unqualified as it had no previous experience in oil spill cleanup operations.
Psalm and KYGTI officials were charged with violating two laws—the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and the Government Procurement Reform Act.
Charged were Emmanuel Ledesma Jr., Psalm president and chief executive officer, and members of the agency’s bids and awards committee—chair Manuel Marcos Villalon II, vice chair Beatriz Irina Denise Alazas and members Luisito Samsin and Edwin Cornelius Laus.
Also named respondents were Karl Ignatius Young, KYGTI president, and Valentino Menpin, officer in charge of the oil spill cleanup and recovery team.
Psalm and KYGTI have repeatedly denied any irregularity in the contract.
In a previous statement, Psalm said the award of the cleanup contract, worth P87 million, “was conducted in accordance with government procurement rules, especially in emergency situations.”
Psalm defended KYGTI against criticisms that the company had no previous experience in cleanup operations, saying that Young, the company head, and another KYGTI officer had been involved in past cleanup operations on Semirara and Guimaras islands.
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