Plunder case sought vs Butuan City mayor
A goup of barangay captains in Butuan City has brought a complaint for plunder and graft in the Office of the Ombudsman against Butuan Mayor Ferdinand Amante Jr. 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 JD Legaspi Construction, which won the bidding for the construction of the Butuan City Poly Sports Complex.
In a 26-page affidavit, 48 village chairpersons 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 the immediate preventive suspension of the accused public officials to prevent 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 Antigraft 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.
In Butuan City, Amante said he had anticipated the charge but dismissed it as the work of his political rivals in a bid to discredit his gains.
“We’re now in a political season and issues like these are common. This politically motivated maneuver is a clear effort to discredit my administration,” he told the Inquirer.
Amante vigorously defended the assailed project as a “dream come true” for every Butuanon.
He said he pitied the complaining village chieftains, most of whom were his former allies, for allowing themselves to be used and manipulated by his rivals.
“I have been anticipating this case since November last year and now it’s filed. I will answer it squarely to put closure to it,” Amante said.
Delgado and the other complainants 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 captains noted that an audit conducted by the Commission on Audit (COA) showed that the BAC did not observe the polices on public bidding as spelled out in RA 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 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. With a report from Franklin Caliguid, Inquirer Mindanao
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.