Seven contractors in cahoots with several National Irrigation Administration (NIA) officials have been charged by the Philippine National Police (PNP) with violating R.A. 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act at the Office of the Ombudsman.
The PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) will also ask the Philippine Contractors Accreditation Board (PCAB) to have the licenses of these contractors canceled indefinitely for violation of R.A. 4566 or the Contractors License Law.
The NIA ranking officials based in Caraga region, on the other hand, were charged with violation of R.A. 3019 or the anti-graft and corrupt practices act.
The respondents were identified as Leo De Guzman, owner of LMG Construction in Nueva Ecija; Rolando Juachon, of Wiro Construction also in Nueva Ecija; Cristina Zamora, of MC Zamora Construction from Pampanga; Ernesto Salazar, of MG Salazar Construction in Bulacan; Palmea Construction based in Pampanga, Ruiz Construction from Butuan City and Corazon Jimenez, owner of Dungan Construction from Pampanga.
The NIA officials charged before the anti-graft court were identified as former Caraga NIA Manager Dexter Patrocinio and current Manager Encarnacion Soriano.
The case stemmed from the P1.2 billion irrigation projects of NIA in Mindanao in 2012.
Based on the court records, Jimenez, the owner of Dungan Construction, was one of the 32 contractors who joined in the bidding for the construction of irrigation canals and spillways in Barangays Mat-i, Ambacon, and Pinanaan in Las Nieves, Agusan Del Norte.
The same records show that due to the large number of bidders, Jimenez included the six contractors’ companies by borrowing their licenses allegedly for a fee to make sure she would get the projects.
Lo and behold, Jimenez and the said firms, all from Luzon, were awarded the billion peso projects with the help of Patrocinio and Soriano of NIA.
The projects were supposed to be finished at the end of 2012. However, based on the report of the PNP, the projects remain unfinished and seemed to have been abandoned by its contractor, Dungan Construction.
During the course of the PNP’s investigation, they found out that De Guzman, Juachon; Zamora, Salazar, the Palmea and the Ruiz Constructions lent their construction licenses to Jimenez, which is ground for license revocation by the Philippine Contractors Accreditation Board (PCAB).
They are now reportedly all blaming Jimenez for the non-completion of the job. Jimenez however denied the PNP’s allegations.
Efforts by this writer to reach the contractors proved futile except for Jimenez who insisted that her company did nothing wrong.
An official of NIA who asked not to be identified said it was Sec. Francis Pangilinan who wanted the case investigated by the PNP immediately after he was appointed by the President as the country’s rice and food czar.
The collusion or connivance of NIA officials and its contractors to win fat projects of the agency by the latter has been going on for a while now.
Huge “tongpats” or commissions for the officials is the key to these contractors to get the big projects of the agency, said my source there.
My source added that Jimenez allegedly made her wealth by cornering hundreds of millions of NIA projects through the help of a fixer, alias “Boyet Evangelista.”
All those charged in this case should be put behind bars to finally put an end to this culture of corruption in this rotten government agency.