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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Ombudsman asked: Probe Clark demolition anomalies

The board of directors of the Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC) approved yesterday a resolution urging the Office of the Ombudsman to probe the demolition of 17 buildings in the Clark aviation complex.

CIAC chairman Nestor Mangio also said in an interview here that the resolution also asked for a probe on the P20 million allegedly missing from the sale of scrap materials from the demolished buildings purportedly earmarked as donation to Aeta folk.

The board also issued a resolution asking CIAC president and chief executive officer Victor Jose Luciano to go on leave pending the investigation to be conducted by the Ombudsman.

“He told me, however, that he had already filed his resignation addressed to President Aquino,” said Mangio, adding though that Luciano’s resignation would not affect the Ombudsman’s probe.

Mangio said the Ombudsman could file a case before the Sandiganbayan should its fact-finding team confirm alleged anomalies in the demolitions.

Luciano gave the go-signal for the demolitions, after MalacaƱang approved the requests of three Aeta groups for donation of scrap materials from the demolished buildings.

Earlier, the CIAC board’s fact-finding committee came out with a recommendation of “at the very least a reprimand” for Luciano over the controversial demolitions.

Mangio cited contractors’ estimate that the scrap materials from the demolished buildings were worth some P33.5 million. This, as an “intermediary” of the Aetas said that only P13 million went to the tribal folk.

Luciano, who authorized the demolition of 17 unused buildings here, said the fact-finding committee “did not follow due process” before it came out with its final report to the CIAC board.  

Earlier, scrap dealer Josie Gomez, who acted as an intermediary between the Aetas led by chieftain Oscar Dizon and buyers of the scrap materials, said she raised P9.5 million from the sale of scrap materials from only 11 buildings.

She claimed to have used P4.5 million of this amount for a day care center and jetmatic pumps for Aeta villages in Bamban, Tarlac, and that the rest was given in cash to the Aetas on installment basis since the demolitions started last year.

Gomez said that even earlier, she sold scrap materials worth P3.5 million from two other buildings for the benefit of the Bamban Aeta Tribal Association headed by Oscar Rivera.

Rivera, however, insisted he got only P15,000 and 100 sacks of rice from Gomez.

Another supposed beneficiary was Aeta Catalino Saplala who requested MalacaƱang for the use of two of the unused buildings.

Saplala, however, said he was surprised when a certain Roger from the CIAC told him that the two buildings he requested for was already demolished and had a buyer of scrap materials. He said he got only P50,000 from the deal.

The CIAC committee report also noted that Luciano failed to give a “complete accounting of all the proceeds of the sale of the 17 buildings demolished.” 

It also noted that the demolished buildings still had “commercial value” and were “economically repairable.”

Despite this, however, the CIAC board admitted that the state-run firm’s “matrix” on Luciano’s authority to make donations is silent on limitations for such acts.

Luciano insisted he did not violate the circular of the Department of Budget and Management on donations which he said covers only government agencies with funds from general appropriations.

He, however, admitted that rulings of the Commission on Audit might have been violated.

He said the fact-finding team’s estimate of the value of the scrap materials was largely “guesswork” and that he did not have any idea of their worth when he approved the demolitions.

Posted via email from Aviation Professionals dot Org

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