Butuan mayor probed for plunder, graft over P253M sports complex contract
MANILA, Philippines — A group of barangay chairmen in Butuan City has brought to the Office of the Ombudsman a complaint of plunder and graft against Butuan Mayor Ferdinand Amante over the delay and alleged irregularities in the construction of a P253-million sports complex.
Also named respondent in the complaint were the members of the city government’s bids and awards committee (BAC) and Jesusito D. Legaspi, owner of the JD Legaspi Construction, which won the bidding for the construction of the Butuan City Poly Sports Complex.
In a 26-page affidavit, 48 village chairmen led by Juby Ignacio Delgado also filed administrative complaints for grave misconduct, gross negligence and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service against Legaspi and the unnamed BAC members.
They likewise sought for the immediate preventive suspension of the accused public officials to block them from “using their power and influence” to affect the investigation of the Ombudsman.
According to the complainants, Legaspi violated Republic Act No. 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, when he signed a contract on Feb. 7, 2013, awarding the multimillion-peso infrastructure project to JD Legaspi despite the contractor’s failure to submit the necessary documents during the bidding.
Delgado and the others noted that the contract explicitly stated that the construction should be completed within 210 days, or sometime in September 2013.
“(T)o date (the project) has remained unfinished and substantially incomplete, which is a considerable and unjustifiable delay,” read a portion of the complaint.
Citing a provision in the plunder law, the complainants said plunder “is committed by a public officer ‘by taking advantage of official position… to unjustly enrich himself or themselves at the expense and to the damage and prejudice of the Filipino people.’”
“Such is the case in the bidding, award and implementation of the Butuan City Poly Sports Complex project,” they said. “An investigation of this anomalous project will demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt such illegal accumulation of wealth.”
To support their claims, the barangay chairmen noted that an audit conducted by the Commission on Audit (COA) showed that the BAC did not meet the requirements of public bidding as spelled out in Republic Act 9184, or the Government Procurement Reform Act.
They said the COA discovered that the mayor’s permit of JD Legaspi had already expired a year before the bidding for the project was held on Jan. 16, 2013.
“(The) law clearly states that a mayor’s permit is one of the documents that would determine the eligibility of a bidder and the same will be determined on a non-discretionary pass/fail criterion,” the complainants argued.
“In blatant disregard of the provisions (of the law)… the (respondents) acted with grave misconduct, gross negligence… and conduct prejudicial… in finding JD Legaspi eligible to bid when (it) was not in possession of a valid mayor’s permit,” they said.
In addition, they said the contractor failed to present the required certifications from the Department of Public Works and Highways, the Department of Labor and Employment and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.
The village chairmen said the state auditors found evidence that the project was overpriced and that the city government did not set up a design and build committee as mandated by law.
“This recommendation from the independent auditing (and) constitutional body of our country must be given due course and full consideration,” they said, adding:
“It likewise manifests the highly irregular, prejudicial and injurious actions of the respondents to the detriment of the interests of the public.” SFM
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