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DATELINE ILIGAN. Ombudsman clears former Iligan mayor, others in IDDP graft case

By Frank E. Dosdos, Jr.
In its Resolution dated April 10, 2015 that was served to the parties recently, the Ombudsman dismissed the Graft and Corrupt Practices complaint of former City Councilor Voltaire I. Rovira against former Mayor Lawrence Ll. Cruz, other officials of this City and the Chief Executive Officer of Conal Holdings Corporation (CHC).

According to the said resolution “a careful perusal of the records reveals that the evidence presented is insufficient to support the complainant’s claim that respondents gave unwarranted benefits to CHC by awarding to it the sale of the IDPPs.”

“As the complainant himself intimated in his complaint, the two public auctions he conducted had failed; and as Sanggunian Resolution No. 08-581 and Resolution No. 08-611 would enlighten, both of which complainant himself authored as a member of the 13th City Council, the City Government did not have the technical and financial capability to operate the power plants, among other grounds, that led to the decision to dispose of the same.”

“And since a sale by negotiation is allowed by the Local Government Code, public respondents took this course, bringing about the negotiation with the most interested bidder, the CFC, and the improved offer of P300 Million.”

“Nevertheless, respondents did not stop there; they devised a way towards forging a better deal for the City government by conducting the Swiss Challenge process whereby every other qualified bidder had the opportunity to offer a higher price than the P300 Million bid of CHC.”

“As the COA decision would explain, the City Government subjected the IDPPs to the process in order to settle issues on the reasonableness of the price and to be assured of the most advantageous offer.”

“As no bidder came up with a higher bid, justifiably the sale had to be awarded to CHC.”

“Still when the COA ordered that the selling price should not be lower than P386,911,780.44 and that all the other conditions it imposed should be fulfilled, the respondents complied.”

“All the foregoing steps having undertaken, there is thus no basis to say that the disposal violated Section 3 (e) or (f) of R.A. 3019.”

“Moreover, the records tend to show that the actions of the public respondents pertaining to the IDPPs underwent due deliberation and are well supported by official documents, resolutions and ordinances, some of which even had either the sponsorship of the complainant or his concurrence.”

Cleared by the said Ombudsman Resolution were respondents Lawrence L. Cruz, (former) City Mayor; Henry C. Dy (former) Vice Mayor; Providencio A. Abragan, Jr., Frederick W. Siao, Marlene L. Young, Simplicio N. Larrazabal III, Ariel P. Anghay, Michelle E. Sweet-Booc, Bayani C. Areola, Roy L. Openiano, Bernard V. Pacana, Riza Jane P. Magaro and Jose L. Zalsos, (all incumbent) City Councilors; Ruderic C. Marzo, Moises G. Dalisay, Jr. and Chonilo Ruiz, (former) City Councilors, all of the City Government of Iligan; and Tirso Santillan, Jr., Chief Executive Officer of Conal Holdings Corporation.

The Resolution was signed by Rosemil R. Banaga, Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer I, reviewed by Maria Illuminada S. Lapid-Viva and approved by Conchita Carpio Morales, Ombudsman.

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