MANILA, Philippines – It’s just the tip of the iceberg.
That’s how former Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel Mejorada on Thursday referred to the allegedly overpriced Iloilo Convention Center (ICC) to describe the corruption in Senate President Franklin Drilon’s turf.
During the first Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on the P747-million ICC, Mejorada enumerated other infrastructure projects in Iloilo City which he claims may have anomalies.
“It pains me to tell the whole nation that Iloilo City has become the bird’s nest of corruption in the country. And it’s largely because those behind such corruption enjoy a mantle of protection from the third highest elected official of the land,” Mejorada said in his opening statement.
Mejorada cited the Pavia housing project, the Iloilo diversion road, the Esplanade project funded by Disbursement Acceleration Program, the San Isidro relocation site land purchases, the Iloilo City Hall of Justice and two flyovers under the President’s Bridge Program, among others.
He said the P450-million Iloilo City Hall is also included in Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago’s resolution which prompted the hearing on the ICC.
Santiago’s resolution seeks to investigate the “anomalous transactions involving multibillions of pesos in public funds between Hilmarc’s Construction Corp. and certain local government units.”
The said company is the contractor of the ICC, which is allegedly overpriced by P531 million, and the controversial Makati City Hall II parking building.
Mejorada has accused Drilon of pocketing public funds as kickbacks from the construction of the ICC, which was reportedly funded by the Senate leader’s pork barrel funds and the Disbursement Acceleration Program.
Drilon, on the other hand, dismissed the allegations as “unfounded” and “malicious” during his opening statement at the start of the hearing.