Butuan mayor rebuffs plunder charge as ‘black propaganda’
BUTUAN CITY – The mayor named in an administrative and criminal complaint filed by 48 barangay captains in his city before the Ombudsman brushed aside the plunder charges as “political black propaganda in a bid to discredit his gains in governance.”
In an interview with Manila Bulletin yesterday, Butuan City Mayor Ferdinand M. Amante Jr. answered the complaint filed by the 48 barangay captains before the Ombudsman on the last week of 2015, in relation to the 253 million Butuan City Poly Sports Complex (BCPSC) located at Barangay Tiniwisan, Butuan City.
The complainants filed administrative charges for alleged grave misconduct, gross negligence and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service against Amante, the chairman and members of the Butuan City bids and awards committee (BAC) and the contractor, JD Legaspi Construction represented by its owner, Jesusito “Boyet” Legaspi.
“This is pure politically motivated and a clear smear campaign to discredit my administration, which has already earned for the city a number one rating in transparency and island of good governance from the Institute for Solidarity in Asia,” stressed the city chief executive. He pledged to answer all the charges in the right forum to put closure to it.
“We are now into the political fever and issues like this are common and this political maneuver is a clear deception and frustrated effort to discredit this local government which has been earning honors for Butuan City,” he said.
Complaint Citing the 2014 Annual Audit Report of the Commission on Audit (COA), the complainants said Amante and the members of the BAC unduly favored Legaspi in the award of the project despite the fact that he had an expired mayor’s permit during the bidding, which is a legal requirement. The COA report said the BAC violated the “indispensable requirements and criteria” set forth by the Government Procurement Reform Act while it questioned the eligibility of JD Legaspi “and its competence to do the job considering it involves design,” an area the firm is not known for.
The complaint also said that the project has remained unfinished and incomplete “approximately two years and two months” after its agreed turnover date. The project completion was set 210 days from Feb. 7, 2013, which should have been in Sept. 2013.
98% complete But the mayor said the complex was already 98 percent complete and will be completed next month (February) as it will be the venue of the Caraga Regional Meet which is also slated next month.
He said the other sources of controversy on the mayor’s permit, certification from TESDA and other concerned government agencies “were all cleared and justified and were ruled favorably by the Government Procurement Policy Board (GPPB), the same with the COA Audit Observation Memos (AOM) report on February 2014.”
The sports complex in question is the 15-hectare compound where the two grandstands (5,000- seating capacity) a 3,000 seating capacity gymnasium and rubberized track and a football field are located.
In the complaint, the barangay captains also cited the COA report that the BAC did not allegedly follow the bidding process under RA 9184 otherwise known as the Government Procurement Reform Act. Manila Bulletin tried to get the side of the contractor to no avail.
Causes of delay Amante clarified, point-by point, all the issues including the delay in the completion of the project, saying “the series of bad weather conditions and Manila Port congestion as all of the precast heavy metal components were imported from China and technically the discrepancy of the billing process between the contractor and the lending bank had contributed to the delay”.
He said other sources of controversy were the issues on mayor’s permit, certification from TESDA and other concern government agencies “which were all cleared and justified and were ruled favorably by the Government Procurement Policy Board (GPPB), the same with the COA Audit Observation Memos (AOM) report on February, 2014.”
“Furthermore, there was no overpricing in the expending the project amount. As a design-and-build scheme, variation orders have to be considered and its total falsity and perjurious to say that there was no design-and-build committee when the project was bidded out and the records and minutes of the BAC proceedings will bear me out of this false accusation” ‘Deceived by political opponents’
“I pity the barangay captains who were only used to file this case because they are now in danger of individually countercharged for they were deceived and manipulated by my political opponents,” said Amante who refrained from mentioning names of political rivals.
Amante has ruled out the possibility of filing counter charges against all the 48 barangay captains.