By Ben Rosario
A contractor who cornered billions of pesos in questioned flood control projects in Sorsogon and Catanduanes has won anew some P1 billion worth contracts through advanced bidding of still unfunded projects.
Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr. , Chairman of House Appropriations Committee (MARK BALMORES / MANILA BULLETIN)
C.T. Leoncio Trading and Construction reportedly emerged the winner in a supposed competitive public bidding of P1 billion worth of infrastructure projects to be implemented in Sorsogon and Catanduanes prior to the approval by Congress of the proposed 2019 national budget, revealed Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr., chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations.
C.T. Leoncio had been questioned in a congressional inquiry into alleged budgetary irregularities that lawmakers claimed to have been carried out in 2017 and 2018 by the Department of Budget and Management under Secretary Benjamin Diokno.
The same contractor’s name surfaced anew supposedly as the winner in the bidding of P1 billion worth of infrastructure projects conducted months before a budget to finance them could be approved.
Andaya’s office informed the House media that the result of the bidding in Sorsogon and Catanduanes was “altered at the last minute to show that contractors other than C.T. Leoncio submitted the lowest bid for the P1-billion projects.”
Andaya revealed that documents submitted by DPWH last December showed that C.T. Leoncio submitted the lowest bid totaling P988,560,855 for 14 projects in Sorsogon and Catanduanes under the 2019 NEP.
“But a new list submitted by DPWH last Tuesday showed that C.T. Leoncio did not win any bidding for Sorsogon projects,” claimed Andaya.
The advanced public bidding of infrastructure projects had been authorized under a memorandum circular issued by Diokno.
Lawmakers assailed the circular as highly irregular because it presupposes that the budget that will finance the projects will be approved by Congress.
“This Diokno Circular eventually allowed the DPWH regional offices and district engineering offices to conduct bidding activities for the P75-billion infrastructure projects inserted in the NEP,” said Andaya.
He added: “Pirma na lang ni Presidente sa 2019 budget ang kulang, mapupunta na sa favored contractors ang mga proyekto.” )All that it takes is the president’s signature on the 2019 budget for the favored contractors to benefit from the projects).
It will be recalled that C.T. Leoncio had undertaken joint venture projects worth P550 million with the Aremar Construction as its partner.
It later turned out that the construction firm was organized by Casiguran Mayor Edwin Hamor who is married to the mother of Diokno’s son-in-law Romeo Sicat Jr.
Sicat, married to Charlotte Justin Diokno, is also a part-owner of Aremar, said Andaya.