Saturday , May 26, 2018

Contractor bares cases filed vs USTP officials

THE contractor of the unfinished 8-storey building at the University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines (USTP) had filed charges at the Office of the Ombudsman against the slain university president and one other university official, lawyer Jonathan Oche, the university’s vice president for administration and legal affairs.

Engineer Selwyn Lao, president of Wing-An Construction and Development Corporation, charged the two top university officials with violations of Sections 3(B) and 3(E) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act 3019), namely extortion and for violating the principle of the public office as a public trust.

In a 12-page complaint-affidavit filed on September 27, 2017 a copy of which was obtained by Sunstar Cagayan de Oro, Lao claimed that the late Dr. Ricardo Rotoras attempted to collect 10% of the total project cost as their 'share or SOP' from the project.

Lao accused Oche of repeatedly blocking payment for the work done on the project.

The complaint was received by Lawyer Julito Ramo, Graft Investigator II of the Office of the Ombudsman.

Work on the 8-storey Student Center and Education Complex, worth P199,590,570.07, began on January 4, 2016 and was terminated by university officials on January 10, 2017.

Lao accused Rotoras for abuse of power by willfully, directly and indirectly extorting a percentage of the contract price for his personal gain while Oche supposedly connived with his co-accused by deliberately restraining the release of payment for the work done.

The San Juan, Metro Manila-based contractor claimed his refusal to give in to the demands may have led to the project’s termination, a claim earlier disputed by USTP.

"Due to non-adherence to the payment of 10% SOP, Wing-An's billings were never released since September 15, 2016 until present,"the affidavit said.

"Due to non-adherence to the payment of 10% SOP, Oche continues to fabricate unfounded and baseless allegations in order to restraint the release of the payment," Lao’s affidavit reads.

Lao said evident bad faith and partiality on the part of the late Rotoras and Oche resulted to the termination of the contract "unjustly and without due process."

In a statement released Wednesday, January 17, the USTP claimed Lao's actions caused the termination of the contract, pointing out that the contractor violated provisions of the contract particularly, subcontracted without authority a portion of the works to a third party, made unauthorized substitution of key personnel, and failure to deploy key personnel committed under the contract.

Lao said Oche also demanded to "confiscate the Wing-An's Bond from Western Guaranty, despite knowing the fact that there was no delay nor abandonment issue in the project."

Aside from filing a case at the Ombudsman, Lao likewise filed a disbarment case before the Supreme Court against Oche to strip the latter of his right to practice law.

In his complaint before the High Court, Lao accused Oche of violating two provisions under Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

Canon 1 states that "A lawyer shall uphold the constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote respect for law of and legal processes."

In a 13-page complaint affidavit filed by Lao on May 15, 2017 and received by the Supreme Court the following day, Lao accused Oche of committing Rule 1.01 (A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct) and Rule 1.02 (A lawyer shall not counsel or abet activities aimed at defiance of the law or at lessening confidence in the legal system).