MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Franklin Drilon’s pet project, the Iloilo Convention Center (ICC), is the subject of an investigation launched on Thursday by the Senate blue ribbon committee.
The committee, headed by Senator Teofisto Guingona III, is looking into allegations that the P747-million project, awarded to Hilmarc Construction Corp., was overpriced.
Instigated by Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s resolution, calling for the investigation of purported “anomalous transactions involving multibillions of pesos in public funds between Hilmarc’s Construction Corp. and certain local government units,” the committee is looking into allegations that the two-story convention building was overpriced by P531 million.
Reportedly, the project was funded by Drilon’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel in 2012, as well as by the Disbursement Acceleration Program in 2013.
A complaint about the purported overpricing of the ICC have also been filed at the Office of the Ombudsman by former provincial administrator Manuel Mejorada. Likewise, Kabaatan Rep. Terry Ridon some months ago authored a resolution in Congress, seeking an investigation into the project.
Drilon has constantly denied the allegations. He said that the complaint about the project was being overpriced was “malicious” and “baseless,” primarily since it started with Mejorada, who was fired as consultant in the project by Drilon.