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Home Community RP Government Updates Philippine Senate Investigates Alleged Link of “Incredible Bulk” to Blacklisted Construction Firms
Philippine Senate Investigates Alleged Link of “Incredible Bulk” to Blacklisted Construction Firms PDF Print E-mail
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Communities - RP Government Updates
Thursday, 05 February 2009 11:40

S en. Panfilo Lacson on Thursday urged Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago to resume looking into the World Bank’s blacklisting of three Filipino construction firms, so she could subpoena the report implicating First Gentleman (FG) Mike Arroyo in the alleged corrupt activities. (Editor's Note: This online publication has dubbed the FG as the “Incredible Bulk.”)

 

Senator Lacson made the call a day after he released to the media “excerpts” of the World Bank report that, he said, had at least 10 witnesses linking FG Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo, certain politicians and public works officials to collusion in rigged biddings.

 

Among the allegations in the report was that FG Mike Arroyo had been given a 5-percent commission as his share of the 10-15-percent increase in the bidding contract of World Bank-funded projects.

 

Editor’s Note: Readers may like to read previous articles published
 in this website that linked First Gentleman Arroyo to more scams and scandals:

 

The Arroyo Administration’s “Incredible Bulk”

 

PGMA Asked to Give “State of the Nation’s Corruption Address” (SONCA) During Her USA Trip

 

Ambassador Gaa Subs for PGMA at Los Angeles Reception

 

PGMA Dared to Implement OFWs’ Proposed Reform Platforms of Government and Economics

 
S enator Santiago held only one hearing last month. She said she would resume the inquiry only if Mr. Lacson would be able to produce the witness who told him that one of the blacklisted contractors delivered bribe money to Mike Arroyo’s office in 2003.

 

For his part, Sen. Manuel “Mar” Roxas II called on President Arroyo to order an independent investigation of the latest controversy involving her husband.

 

“She should act to clean up the graft gangs in her government,” Senator Roxas said in a statement. “She must spearhead this war against corruption by starting it in her own backyard. Only then can she prove her sincerity.”

 

In a text message sent later to reporters, Roxas noted Ms Arroyo’s unscheduled trip to the United States and wondered whether it had something to do with the current scandal and expected criminal proceedings.

 

Senator Lacson separately told radio stations dzMM and dzXL that by resuming the inquiry, Senator Santiago could issue a subpoena to the Office of the Ombudsman to compel it to release the World Bank report. He said during the interview, “That’s why the Ombudsman should start criminal proceedings.”

 

Senator Santiago told reporters on Wednesday that she had a copy of the World Bank report and that it did not mention the allegations against FG Mike Arroyo.

 

He pointed out that the World Bank had sent the Ombudsman through the Department of Finance a copy of its findings that three Filipino contractors colluded in cornering projects that the World Bank funded under the National Roads and Improvement and Management Program (NRIMP 1).

 

This prompted Mr. Lacson to say that Senator Santiago must have the “wrong copy.”

On Thursday, he said Senator Santiago was apparently holding, not the actual report of the World Bank, but notices it had issued to the blacklisted contractors.

 

Mr. Lacson said Senator Santiago should resume the inquiry. “But if she does not resume the inquiry, it is the Philippine government, the Filipino people, who will be put in an embarrassing position,” he said.

 

Senator Lacson recalled the portion of the report where a Japanese contractor linked FG Mike Arroyo and then Sen. Robert Barbers (now deceased) to purported bribes.

 

“Isn’t that embarrassing? A senator and the husband of a President linked to bribery?” Mr. Lacson asked.

 

Senator Lacson said that as soon as he gets a complete copy of the World Bank report, he would deliver a privilege speech so that the Senate and the people would be informed of the many wrongs in the government-procurement system.

 

And if Ms. Santiago, who chairs the committee on economic affairs, will not resume the inquiry, Sen. Francis Escudero said that he is prepared to step in.

 

In a statement, Senator Escudero said his committee on constitutional amendments and revision of codes and laws would “dig deeper” into the issue in an effort to tighten safeguards in the government procurement system.

 

“To avoid the practice of what the World Bank has already called a major cartel, the discretion of procurement agencies should be lessened and observers should be invited to participate in the bidding process,” he said.

 

Copy of Complaints

 

In Malacañang, Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said the purported World Bank report implicating the President’s husband in the rigging of public works contracts was but a copy of complaints prepared by losing contractors.

 

Secretary Remonde said he got this information at a meeting with World Bank officials.

 

“The theory is that what [Lacson is] peddling as the World Bank report is not really a report of the investigation but a copy of the allegations made by the losing contractor that was given to the respondent contractor,” he told reporters after a briefing.

 

Secretary Remonde compared the document to those submitted by complainants to the Office of the Prosecutor, which requires a reply from respondents.

 

“We really need to look at this so-called World Bank report if it is (the genuine document),” he said.


He expressed doubt that the World Bank would “leak its findings,” and said “that’s not the way [it] works.”

 

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita was vague on whether Malacañang was holding a copy of the official World Bank report. But he said the Office of the Ombudsman was now looking into the allegationsAbout two weeks ago when the report was first made public, Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya said World Bank officials had furnished the Ombudsman all documents concerning the rigged bids.

 

“If there is evidence to prove the involvement of those in government, especially from the executive branch, the case should proceed,” Secretary Ermita said.

 

Asked if the Palace would formally ask clarification from the World Bank, Secretary Ermita said it was leaving the matter to the finance and budget departments and the National Economic and Development Authority. # # #

 

 

Ado Paglinawan Explains the State of Philippine Agriculture and the Agri-Fund Scandals

 



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Last Updated on Thursday, 05 February 2009 16:43
 

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