Ombudsman denies with finality graft charges vs Drilon, DPWH officials on ICC issue

By , on August 12, 2015

Senate President Franklin Drilon touring Iloilo (Photo courtesy of Drilon's Facebook account)
Senate President Franklin Drilon touring Iloilo (Photo courtesy of Drilon’s Facebook account)

ILOILO CITY — The Office of the Ombudsman denied with finality the motion for reconsideration filed by Ilonggo complainant Manuel Mejorada, former consultant of Senate President Franklin M. Drilon, for lack of merit over the construction of the multi-million peso Iloilo Convention Center (ICC).

In its July 9 decision, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales also upheld its earlier decision dismissing the graft charges against Drilon, Department of Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr, Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson and other DPWH officials, architect W Coscoluella and Associates and Hilmarc Construction Corp.

Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog said the Ombudsman decision is a triumph of law over frivolous accusations which only succeeded in delaying the ICC construction by almost four months. The city mayor said the ICC is the main venue of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings here that will catapult Iloilo City to world attention for hosting the APEC.

Mejorada earlier brought the case to the Senate for investigation by the Blue Ribbon committee but failed to present substantial evidence and turned out to be a dud.

The Ombudsman said the complainant-movant failed to present newly-discovered evidence or raise grave errors of law or serious irregularities committed by this Office to warrant a reversal of the assailed Joint Resolution.

Earlier, the Ombudsman, in a 27-page decision, concluded that “there is no basis for this Office to charge respondents with malversation of public funds and plunder.” The Ombudsman also criticized the complainant for relying on online sources in filing his case.

The Ombudsman also found out that the government was even able to save a huge amount of money allotted for the ICC’s design, which contradicted the complainant’s allegation.

The Ombudsman also dismissed the allegation that there was no public bidding conducted for the project.

Drilon earlier said that the Ombudsman’s dismissal of the case just goes to show that the baseless and malicious allegations hurled against the ICC are completely without merit.