Monday, November 3, 2014

Drilon to accuser: Show evidence ICC is overpriced

MANILA-Senate President Franklin M. Drilon today said he was not adverse to any Senate investigation into the Iloilo Convention Center (ICC) but expressed confidence that the Department of Public Works and Highway (DPWH) will be able to defend the regularity of the project.

“The DPWH, which supervised the ICC, can easily disprove the malicious allegations made against the implementation of the project." Drilon said. “I have no involvement in any way in the bidding process for the project. I was nowhere near that process to intervene, let alone nominate anyone to be the contractor of the project.”

Likewise, the Senate chief said he will never use his position as Senate President “to block or prevent the holding of a Senate Blue Ribbon Committee inquiry into the matter.”

“I have nothing to hide. Any inquiry or investigation will validate the facts and figures of this project, and will just show how absurd these vile allegations really are,” he said.

But Drilon emphasized that it was only proper that those who were responsible for spreading lies regarding the ICC “must be made liable for their actions if their allegations were proven wrong and politically-motivated.”

 “The project was bid out under the supervision of Public Works Sec. Rogelio Singson, who is widely known for his integrity,” he added.

Sec. Singson had earlier disputed the allegations of overpricing, saying that the project was above-board and strictly followed bidding process. In fact, Singson said the actual price of the ICC is even lower than the approved budget for the contract, after they allowed the adoption of value engineering specifically on structural aspects of the building.

Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez had earlier said that he "expressed full trust and confidence in the competence and sincerity of all those involved in the ICC Project."

"I firmly believe that our actions in support of this project will withstand scrutiny. Notwithstanding this unfortunate allegation of overpricing, we will not allow this distraction to derail our mission to make tourism a force for growth and inclusiveness in this country," Jimenez said in a statement.

Drilon said he believed that the public will realize that the issues being hurled against them were mere harassment. "The ICC is a major undertaking by various agencies particularly the DPWH, DOT and TIEZA. To say that Secretary Singson, Secretary Jimenez and I all connived to ruin the integrity of the ICC project is absurd, baseless and malicious," said Drilon.

The ICC’s construction is part of a major campaign to improve Iloilo's capacity to host and accommodate international events and conferences, particularly the 2015 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) ministerial meetings.

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