MANILA — Samar Rep. Mel Senen Sarmiento on Saturday said that there is nothing more to investigate on the alleged overpricing of the Iloilo Convention Center (ICC) after the alleged whistle-blower could only present the “wikipedia” as the basis of his claim.
Sarmiento said that when the supposed explosive revelations former Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel Mejorada Jr. turned out to be nothing but baseless innuendos, the Senate Blue Ribbon committee has no more reason to continue its probe on the ICC which would be one of the main venues of next year’s Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.
According to the Visayan solon, it is also too obvious that the alleged conspiracy among Senate President Franklin Drilon, Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson and Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez purportedly to jack up the actual cost of the building was a conclusion made by Mejorada based on mere assumptions and faulty calculations.
“The only basis of Mejorada in claiming that there was overpricing on the construction of the ICC is the Wikipedia and flawed mathematical formula. It would be a real waste of time and money for the Senate to continue investigating this kind of an allegation,” Sarmiento, Secretary General of the Liberal Party said.
He also said that it was also wrong to draw a comparison between the allegations of corruption in ICC and the Makati Parking Building because unlike Mejorada’s claims, the allegations made by former Makati Vice-Mayor Ernesto Mercado was supported not only by witnesses but also by documentary evidence and evaluation by engineering and architectural experts.
“Even at the beginning of the Senate probe, the allegations made against Vice-president Binay and his family was based on testimonies, documents that even include pictures and the expert opinion of third-part experts. The ICC case on the other hand was only based on the say-so of a disgruntled former provincial government employee who can only present the Wikipedia as evidence,” Sarmiento said.
“Clearly, the Senate must continue the probe on the allegations of corruption in Makati but there’s no reason to do the same in the case of the ICC,” he said.
Sarmiento also said that “the display of professionalism and integrity under intense scrutiny” by Secretary Singson and Secretary Jimenez, who were invited in the hearing along with Drilon, shows “the true-meaning of the tuwid na daan” [straight path] politics of the current administration.
“Both Cabinet Secretaries Singson and Jimenez explained every question that was asked from them by the senators in a manner that was respectable, enlightening and easily understood by the public. It is clear that these are reputable people who are working with the President in his platforms, and they have nothing to hide, and have no reason to fear and evade public scrutiny,” Sarmiento said.
“The actions of Drilon, Jimenez and Singson just show that that those who are secured in the truth will not wither from security, unlike politicians who know they are guilty and are doing everything to impede public investigations against them,” he said.