Journalists sue ex-Antique governor for plunder
Two journalists have filed a plunder complaint against former Antique Gov. Exequiel Javier and his son, Rep. Paolo Everardo Javier, for alleged rigging of projects and ill-gotten wealth.
Radio commentators Wilson Geronimo and Modesto Montano filed the plunder complaint on Friday before the Office of the Ombudsman, vowing to be critical journalists who chose not to stay silent.
In their complaint, the journalists expressed dismay at the Javiers’ alleged malfeasance in office even as the former governor is the brother of slain opposition leader Evelio Javier.
Evelio Javier, then Antique governor, was gunned down in Feb. 11, 1986, as he was monitoring the canvassing of the snap elections between the late former President Corazon Aquino and ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
Javier’s death, together with that of Cory’s slain husband Ninoy Aquino Jr., was said to have fueled people’s power revolt on Feb. 22, 1986.
READ: Evelio Javier reunited with his wife in death
“The political capital they inherited from Evelio’s martyrdom, these two have used for their own political advancements. But they now wore the face of tyranny and corruption,” the complaint read.
“Divine justice is for later. Let us talk first of the crimes which would put them behind bars. For a prison is where, in its rarified silent air, the ghost of Evelio may be able to haunt them,” it added.
The journalists alleged that the Javier father and son accumulated at least P500 million in ill-gotten wealth. The elder Javier served as Antique congressman from 1987 to 1998 and from 2001 to 2010; he was also Antique governor from 1998 to 2001, and from 2010 to 2013 before he was ousted. The younger Javier is serving his second term as congressman.
In an interview after the filing, Geronimo said he found the guts to file the complaint after the Commission on Elections ousted Javier from the capitol for suspending a municipal mayor during the 2013 election period, in violation of poll rules.
READ: Comelec ousts Antique governor Javier for suspending mayor during 2013 poll period
“Pwede ring sabihing naglakas kami ng loob. Before I became a broadcaster, I was first an Antiqueño. If they call me biased, so be it, as long as I’m standing right now on behalf of the aggrieved people,” Geronimo said.
The complainants cited audit observation memorandums by the Commission on Audit which found anomalous contracts for infrastructure projects without proper documentation, at least P10.87 million in fuel expenses procured without public bidding, a loss of P3.86 million in public funds due to the anomalous procurement of hospital services, and at least P17.1 million relief goods distributed to victims of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” without proper reports, among others.
The complaint also cited P58.514 million in Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) not returned to the treasury after the Supreme Court junked the pork barrel as unconstitutional.
The journalists also claimed two companies—Settlers Builders and NK Enterprise—served as “fronts” for ex-governor Javier, cornering at least P389 million in government projects from 2011 to 2014.
“Over the same period, some P0.5 billion worth of various infrastructure projects, supplies and materials were irregularly bid out through a systematic pattern of only one contractor (either Settlers Builders or NK Enterprise) bidding for a project,” the complaint said.
“All so-called public open biddings during the watch of ex-Governor Javier were rigged, overpriced and conducted without the proper and required documents as if laws, rules and regulations did not exist,” it added.
Settlers Builders cornered 12 contracts in December 2014 alone worth P50 million, beyond its net financial contracting capacity, according to the journalists.
At one point, Settlers Builders won six contracts worth P17.6 million in one day, or on Dec. 22, 2014, with the company as lone bidder.
NK Enteprise got the second biggest government projects worth P159.56 million, also beyond its net financial contracting capacity and without public bidding.
Representative Javier was also accused of “conspiring and colluding” with public works department officials to “hide the fact that Settlers Builders and NK Enterprise are both not qualified to bid for projects.”
The incumbent solon allegedly spent his PDAF to a scholarship program padded with double entries, the complainants said.
Some P10 million per year allocation for Javier’s scholarship project was padded with another P10 million project outlay by the provincial government, a “case of double entry,” the complainants said.
The complaint also cited a newspaper report that Javier, as a favored congressman of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, was “pampered with various financial packages and infrastructure projects, including those budgeted by the controversial Malampaya funds.”
The Malampaya fund, sourced from royalties of the Palawan gas field, figured in a corruption scandal of ghost projects under the alleged scheme of pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.
The complainants said Javier received P636 million in Malampaya funds, of which P175.775 million was spent for road construction in a remote mountain barangay which is “sparsely inhabited.”
The complainants alleged that the Javiers concreted farm-to-market roads leading to their farm estates in San Remigio town, “in effect using public funds to develop their own properties acquired illegally in the first place.”
According to Republic Act No. 7080, plunder is a nonbailable offense defined as the illegal accumulation of at least P50 million in ill-gotten wealth.
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