Former gov't officials involved in anomalous P111-B bridge program liable for graft — Osmena

October 9, 2012 10:02 pm 

By Jelly F. Musico

MANILA, Oct. 9 – Senator Serge Osmena said on Tuesday that the past officials of key implementing government agencies involved in the anomalous P111-billion President’s Bridge Program could be charged for violation of the anti-graft and corrupt practices act.

Osmena said the former officials of the implementing agencies during the three previous administration might have committed undue advantage and signed a grossly disadvantageous contract to government for misrepresenting the entire bridge program as an Official Development Assistance (ODA) project.

”The mere fact that you signed it, you entered into it is already a violation,” Osmena told the media after the Senate hearing conducted by the committees on blue ribbon and public works committees.

The key implementing agencies of the bridge program are Department of Finance, National Economic Development Authority, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of Transportation and Communications and the Department of Local Governments during the time of former President Fidel V. Ramos, Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Osmena did not name names but said those who signed the contract and all the officers involved could be held liable by the Sandiganbayan for giving undue advantage to favored contractors who have been awarded 1,500 bridge projects without public bidding.

”There were no valid computations and due diligence done. They were pointing at each other,” Osmena said after the hearing attended mostly by former government officials led by former Executive Secretary Rolando Zamora and NEDA Secretary Romulo Neri.

Osmena delivered a privilege speech on Sept. 17, where he alleged that former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo orchestrated a ‘serial plunder’ for 14 overpriced bridge construction contracts in different parts of the country totaling P111 billion.

Osmena said the 14 bridge contracts were misrepresented as having been funded through ODA concessional financing from such countries like the United Kingdom and France.

The lawmaker said the Senate is building up cases for highly-padded foreign-exchange deals in which foreign funding for the projects were converted to other denominations to earn profit on the side.

Osmena said he discovered the anomalous bridge program when he investigated the alleged overpriced P12.7 billion roll-on, roll-off or RORO project.

”We found out that 70 out of the 72 sites could not take a RORO, either it’s too big or there’s no place,” Osmena said.

Osmena said President Aquino has already cancelled the RORO project. (PNA)

RMA/JFM

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