City Hall Documents To Probe Corruption Scandal

The independent composite evaluation team (ICET) dissecting the alleged anomalies in the construction of the new City Hall still cannot proceed its "technical" probe after the city engineer's office on Friday failed to provide the other "crucial documents."

However, the legal and auditing aspects of the investigation will commence this week.

City Hall sources privy to the multi-million project have described the lacking documents â€" as-built plan of the realized building â€" a "smoking gun" of the controversy.

City engineer Pianicita Castolo only provided the blueprint of the "proposed architectural and engineering plans and specifications" but without the as built-plan of the realized building, according to probe team member, architect Socrates Fucanan of the United Architects of the Philippines (UAP).

Fucanan and engineer Wellington Pilongo of the Federated Parents and Teachers Association (FPTA) told the Chronicle the lacking documents were vital in finding out if what was proposed was actually implemented in the construction.

"We will check if what was planned was really implemented," Fucanan said.

Fucanan and Pilongo noted that any glaring overpricing (or anomaly) in the project would be unmasked by examining the lacking documents.

But while the technical work suffered delay, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) and the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA) were due to start reviewing the legal and auditing/budget aspects respective-ly, noted IBP president and probe team leader Florendo Columnas.

DARE

"I challenge the City Hall to produce the lacking documents," replied Columnas when asked if City Hall can fulfill what it promised to the public: to be transparent to the people of Tagbilaran.

Earlier, mayor Joe Torralba indicated that all the documents pertinent to the project were open for public scrutiny, saying "I have nothing to hide."

Columnas quoted Castolo as saying there was already an agreement between the latter and Ariel Migriño, staff of the Sangguniang Panlungsod, to have the documents ready for photocopy on Friday.

But Migriño had denied there was such an agreement.

A letter on Friday from the ICET was sent to Castolo asking her office to provide the documents.

NO FUNDING

The team also failed to take off its technical work when it cannot reproduce the gigantic sheets of documents.

Measuring 48 inches on all sides, some 50 sheets of the blueprint of the proposed plans and specifications and another 40 sheets of the as-built plan could cost around P17,000 for reproduction (each set for four persons).

During the team's meeting on Thursday at the second floor of the new City Hall, none had the personal cash to spend for the photocopy.

According to the resolution that created the ICET, expenses for paperwork and documentation will be taken from the SP fund.

However, the SP fund source was not specified except that it will be taken from SP's "other available sources."

Confronted with tight finances, Migriño asked the opinion of city vice-mayor Jorge Cabalit who advised that the matter had to be canvassed first.

There is only one establishment in the city that can serve "large paper xerox."

The team, which members are working voluntarily, said the canvass was no longer necessary.

RESOLUTION


Probe member lawyer Salva Diputado of the Bohol Times said the resolution creating the ICET had a lapse when it was not accompanied with specific funding for expenses.

He said that the city councilors had overlooked future expenses the team would incur.

INHIBITION


Public works and highways district engineer Celestino Adlaon, representing PICE, did not attend the meeting. He had been absent twice in a row.

Columnas on Friday sent a letter to Adlaon clarifying the latter's commitment to the ICET.

Earlier, Adlaon expressed reluctance about the ICET, saying he was a government employed.

Although there was yet no immediate report he was pressured by City Hall, Adlaon had earlier expressed hesitancy to the team, saying "what if the findings would be adverse to the Torralba administration."

Columnas said there has to be a representative from PICE if Adlaon backs out.

Adlaon, for his part, reasoned he was not informed about the two meetings.

On the other hand, PICPA's Leah Tirol-Magno, niece of Nuevas Tirol-Montes (vice mayoralty running mate of Betty Torralba), did not also attend the meeting twice in a row. Last week, she was represented by Merlinda Mendez. - 2004 News Archive - Bohol Chronicle