SENATE President Franklin Drilon was ordered by the Office of the Ombudsman to file his counter-affidavit on the plunder and other graft-related complaints filed by former Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel Mejorada in relation to the “overpriced” P700-million Iloilo Convention Center (ICC).
Director Mothalib Onos of the Ombudsman’s Preliminary Investigation and Administrative Adjudication Bureau gave Drilon 10 days to answer Mejorada’s allegation that the bidding for the ICC was rigged.
Also ordered to file their counter-affidavits were Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson, Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr., Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority chief operating officer Mark Lapid and other officers of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
Mejorada earlier appeared before the Senate blue ribbon committee and admitted to having no evidence at the time to back his claims of irregularities. He told members of the committee that he got his information from “open sources” like Wikipedia and “whispers” of unnamed architects in Iloilo.
He cited several supposed violations involving the ICC project, including selection of consultant who will design the building and failure of the DPWH to secure necessary constructions permits.
Mejorada said t procurement of the consultancy services of W.V. Coscolluela and Associates did not undergo a competitive public bidding. (WV Coscolluela is the group that designed the ICC).
This is aside from accusing the DPWH Central Office Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) of violating provisions of Republic Act 9184 or the Procurement Act, when it decided to adopt a negotiated mode of procurement after failed first and second public biddings. The failure allowed the DPWH to pick the contractor of its choice.
Drilon, Singson and Jimenez, dismissed Mejorada’s allegations and insisted that the project went through the legal and transparent process.
Some members of the blue ribbon committee were not happy with the testimony of Mejorada, noting that the former Iloilo official has wasted the time of the committee.