SBMA ‘ghost’ project probed
SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chair Martin Diño has questioned the purchase of a vehicle tracking system for this free port nine years ago but that has never been installed.
Diño was referring to the radio frequency identification (RFID) system which SBMA was supposed to have bought in 2007 for P49 million.
The system involved, among other things, the installation of closed-circuit television (CCTV) and surveillance cameras in five gates of the free port as well as security tags for vehicles and pedestrians.
The project came right at the time when industry growth in the free port was affected by perceived security risks and threats to investors, especially amid reports of car smuggling here.
Diño directed the SBMA legal department to go after people behind what he believed was “a ghost project of a previous administration.”
“I’m digging into the agency’s old contracts and I’ll make sure that those involved in this anomaly will be charged in court,” Diño said.
“I want to know if [the system] had been really paid for and who received it. And where are those CCTVs?”
Lawyer Victorio Casauay, Diño’s legal consultant, said the transaction was undertaken during the administration of former SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza in 2007.
“The project was bid out and there was a winning bidder. The SBMA purchased the system but there was no actual delivery of the items. It’s a ghost delivery,” Casauay told the Inquirer by telephone on Thursday.
The supposed purchase was a joint project of the SBMA and the Department of Budget and Management, he said.
The irregularity surfaced in 2014 but only Rani Cruz, head of the SBMA property procurement and management division, was charged with grave misconduct, serious dishonesty, gross neglect of duty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.
The case is still being heard by the disciplinary action committee of SBMA, according to documents.
In his 2014 affidavit, Cruz said he signed the certificate of completion indicating that the RFID transaction had been fulfilled. But he said it was a ministerial task.
“It takes a review from the COA (Commission on Audit) to discover the anomalous project,” Casauay said.
He said Diño was puzzled why only one person was charged over the alleged questionable purchase.
“Can one person single-handedly carry out such an irregular transaction?” Casauay asked.
He said Diño wanted to find out who else could have been liable for the alleged irregularity.
“We are collating all documents as we prepare to file necessary charges against SBMA officials who had a hand in the project,” Casauay said.
“It’s been more than nine years but no one else had been charged in connection with that irregular project,” he added.
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