Ombudsman orders Drilon, 8 others to respond to cases over ICC contract
ILOILO CITY, Philippines — The Ombudsman has directed Senate President Franklin Drilon and other top government officials to respond to criminal and administrative complaints in relation to the construction of the controversial Iloilo Convention Center (ICC).
In a two-page order dated Nov. 17, the anti-graft body ordered Drilon; Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson; Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr.; Mark Lapid, chief operating officer of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority; and six other respondents to submit their counter-affidavits to the criminal case filed by former Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel Mejorada.
The other respondents were Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) officials: Jaime Pacanan (undersecretary), Romeo Momo (undersecretary), Edilberto Tayao (Western Visayas director) and Marilyn Celiz (bids and awards committee chair); architect William Coscolluela and Efren Canlas, president of the Hilmarcs Construction Corp.
In a separate two-page order, the Ombudsman also directed the same respondents except Drilon, Coscolluela and Canlas to file their counter-affidavits to the administrative complaint for dishonesty and grave misconduct.
Both orders, which directed the respondents to submit their counter-affidavits within 10 days from receipt of the directives, were issued by Mothalib Onos, director of the Ombudsman’s Preliminary Investigation and Administrative Adjudication Bureau.
Mejorada has filed a plunder complaint against Drilon, the main proponent of the project, and the other respondents for alleged overpricing and other irregularities in the P747-million project.
Drilon and other government officials have repeatedly denied the allegations and have dismissed Mejorada’s complaint as baseless and malicious.
The construction of the ICC is being rushed before the scheduled meetings of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation in September and October, which Iloilo will be hosting along with other cities.
The first phase of the project is about 96 percent completed, according to Tayao.
But the bidding of the second phase has been pushed back to January in 2015 after the failure of the first bidding.
The re-bidding will be conducted after the DPWH central office reviews the project’s scope of work, according to Tayao in an earlier interview.
Tayao said the DPWH-Western Visayas office recommended a revision of the scope of work of the second phase, including the removal of items that were part of site development.
The second phase of the construction involves mainly finishing works including power, water, electricity and glass fixtures. This will also include the installation of elevators and escalators.
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