MANILA, Philippines– Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon has filed a bill seeking a congressional inquiry into the alleged P747-million pet project of Senate President Franklin Drilon.
House Resolution No. 1466 authored by Ridon seeks to investigate Drilon’s project, the Iloilo Convention Center (ICC), awarded to Hilmarc Construction Corp., the contractor of the reportedly overpriced Makati City Hall II parking building currently being investigated by the Senate.
Ridon appealed to the House committee on public works and highways to include in the probe 20 government infrastructure projects built by Hilmarc over the last ten years to determine if corruption and overpricing were involved.
The lawmaker, however, said that the investigation will target the ICC, which he pinpointed as potentially the most “extortionate” among Hilmarc’s government projects.
According to Ridon the ICC was funded in part by Drilon’s P200-million allocation from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) in 2012 and P100 million from Malacañang’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) in 2013.
He said that the 6,400 square meter center was being constructed at a cost of P109,375 per square meter; making it four times more costly than the P900-million SMX Convention Center in Pasay City, which was constructed at P26,400 per square meter for a floor area area of 46,647 square meters.
“The ICC is overpriced by P531 million compared to the SMX Convention Center,” he said.
Drilon, on the other hand, lambasted Ridon, saying that his data was erroneous, and his allegations were false.
“The project costs P63,893.11 per sqm based on a design made by architect William V. Cosculluela. The building is seven stories tall and designed without any columns but with long span beams and glass curtain walls. It was bid out by Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson, who is widely known for his integrity,” Drilon said in a phone interview.
Drilon said further that the ICC will have a total floor area of 11,693.79 square meters; nearly double the size mentioned by Ridon in his calculations.
“He (Ridon) is just muddling the issue. You can’t compare two buildings just because they were built by the same contractor,” Drilon said, in reference to the purportedly overpriced Makati parking building.
Construction of the ICC is currently 85-percent complete, and is being rushed for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) leaders’ meeting in 2015, which the Philippines is set to host.
The center is being erected on a 1.7-hectare lot donated by Megaworld, and is adjacent to the company’s 54-hectare property presently being developed into the Iloilo Business Park.
Designed to be state-of-the-art, construction of entire facility will be completed in three phases, with an overall design inspired by Iloilo’s Dinagyang and Paraw festivals.