Friday, November 21, 2014

Drilon: Malicious lies and accusations vs. ICC to blame for project snags

MANILA-Senate President Franklin M. Drilon today said that the baseless allegations weaved from Wikipedia articles and whispered rumors are to be blamed for the latest delays on the construction of the Iloilo Convention Center (ICC), which is gunning for completion in time for the 2015 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings in Iloilo City.

Drilon underscored that the accusations made by a known political operator against the ICC, which is now the subject of a Senate probe, is “directly responsible for the failure of bidding for the second phase of the ICC’s construction.”
“Because of the malicious and baseless allegations against the construction of the ICC, contractors and other participants are getting afraid that their names and businesses will be the next target of lies being concocted, and that their names will be dragged into the issue,” said Drilon.

He cited the statements of Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Region VI Director Edilberto Tayao, who admitted that the ICC project is facing delays because contractors have apprehension participating in the bidding to complete the project.

“Contractors with the capability to complete a project as big as the ICC did not join anymore, and those who remained were hesitant to bid at lower than P200 million, which is above the project’s approved budget of contract of P187 million,” according to Tayao, adding that major contractors who had previously participated in the bidding for the ICC’s first phase did not do so anymore in the second bidding conducted last October 20.

Tayao also noted that due to the delay, the project’s completion is pushed back to May or June of 2015: “It will take another month to find a qualified contractor for the project’s Phase 2. If that second bidding also fails, we then have to go into a negotiated bidding, as permitted under law.”

“It is unfortunate that just because of lies, and of spiteful and baseless allegations hurled against the project and its proponents and implementers, Ilonggos could lose the opportunity of hosting the 2015 APEC meetings, along with all the tourism and economic developments prospects that this event brings,” Drilon stressed. 

Drilon said he agreed with the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Iloilo City that the ICC overpricing issue could “delay the edifice’s completion and jeopardize Iloilo City’s hosting of the APEC ministerial meetings.”

“If that happens, Ilonggos stand to lose the chance to make new jobs and sources of livelihoods in their communities. This is a very rare opportunity we fear we can never have again,” he emphasized.

The Senate chief said he will continue to answer questions regarding his participation in the ICC project. But he wished that the Iloilo and its developmental plans be spared from politically-motivated smear campaigns.

“I have nothing to hide, and I will hide nothing. But this sinister agenda of some should not spoil the progress of Ilonggos, who have been trying to achieve their dreams of progress in the past years, made possible by opportunities provided by the present administration,” Drilon concluded. 

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