MANILA — Malacañang said Thursday it believes the two Cabinet secretaries being implicated in the alleged overpricing in the construction of the P700-million Iloilo Convention Center, could defend themselves and do not need to take a leave of absence.
“We don’t see any reason to do that,” said Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda when asked whether it is necessary for Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Rogelio Singson and Tourism (DOT) Secretary Ramon Jimenez to take a leave of absence.
The two Cabinet secretaries have been named as co-respondents when Manuel Mejorada Jr. filed criminal and administrative charges against Senate President Franklin Drilon at the Office of the Ombudsman on Wednesday over the alleged overpricing of the Iloilo Convention Center.
“Secretary Babes Singson is very confident that the bidding process undertaken for the Iloilo Convention Center was above board,” Lacierda told reporters during a press briefing at the Palace.
He said he did not know why Mejorada had to name Secretary Jimenez as a co-respondent.
“I think this was a personal feud by that person and Senator Frank Drilon. But you know, maybe to carry more media mileage, he decided to sue Secretary Singson and Secretary Jimenez. But Secretary Singson has already said he can easily defend the bidding process,” Lacierda said.
He further said that Malacañang will leave it to Senator Drilon to defend himself in court, noting that the legislator has in previous interviews expressed his confidence in hurdling the case against him.
The Iloilo Convention Center, Drilon’s pet project, is being built by Hilmarc’s Construction Corp., the contractor of the allegedly overpriced Makati parking building.