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Plunder case sought against Philippine ex-president

Publication Date : 24-10-2012

 

Make them pay.

Former Philippine president and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Arroyo and Palawan officials should be charged with plunder for the misuse of 2.3 billion pesos (US$55 million) in profits from the Malampaya gas project, a Catholic bishop and the daughter of slain Palawan broadcaster Gerry Ortega said yesterday.

Puerto Princessa Bishop Pedro Arigo and Mika Ortega cited two Commission on Audit (COA) reports that discovered anomalies in projects funded by Malampaya funds in 2008.

They said Arroyo should be held responsible for entering into an agreement with the provincial government that was “designed to plunder” the Malampaya funds.

“Definitely…the interim sharing agreement with the national government was crafted so that they could feast on the funds,” Arigo said in a press conference at the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) headquarters in Intramuros, Manila.

“It was designed for plunder,” stressed Mika.

Arigo said he believes Mika’s father was assassinated because he exposed the anomalies in the use of the Malampaya funds.

“This interim sharing agreement was done secretly and it just so happened that Gerry Ortega was a board member and he learned about it and exposed it. Otherwise, no one would have known about it,” Arigo said.

Worse than pork barrel

Lawyer Harry Roque Jr. said the sharing agreement, set out in Arroyo’s Executive Order No. 363, allowed the national government to release the funds to the western provincial government without oversight from Congress.

“It was drafted to facilitate graft because there is no mechanism for accountability. It does not require a law saying how the funds should be used. The funds are not included in the national budget,” Roque said.

“This is worse than the pork barrel. At least the pork barrel is included in the national budget,” he added.

To prove their point, Arigo, Ortega and Roque presented at the press conference the second COA report which found six anomalies in the projects funded by 520 million pesos in Malampaya funds in the second congressional district of Palawan.

The COA noted that 43 invitations to bid for 109 infrastructure projects worth 493 million pesos were not posted in the Government Electronic Procurement System site as required by law.

It said nine roads, highways and bridges worth 170.4 million pesos that were reported “100-per cent complete” were found to be “with major deficiencies” due to undelivered materials worth over 5 million pesos.

“Deficiencies in the construction of school buildings estimated at 1.9 million pesos were found in 40 projects covered by 15 contracts,” the COA report said. The agency cited nondelivery or underdelivery of materials, and the inferior quality of materials as causes.

'Doctored' report

It also noted that 36 projects were awarded to contractors who were “previously awarded contracts with more or less the same, if not overlapping, periods of execution.”

Liquidated damages worth 1.45 million pesos were also not imposed for 11 unfinished projects, including a school building.

The report added that eight of the 12 material engineers involved in the multiple projects had “exceeded the limits of assignment” in violation of the condition of their accreditation with the Department of Public Works and Highways.

Arigo and Mika scored the second COA report for recommending mainly administrative charges against the responsible officials.
“It should be plunder. This report was delayed for three years and now that it has come out, it looks like it was doctored,” Arigo said.

Mika urged the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to investigate the misuse of Malampaya funds and for Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales to pursue the charges against those responsible.

*US$1=41.3 pesos

 

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