THE contractor of an 8-storey building at the University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines (USTP) on Tuesday, January 16, said his refusal to ‘play ball’ with slain university president Dr. Ricardo Rotoras and some other university officials may have led to the halting of the project in January last year.
Engineer Selwyn Lao, president of Wing-An Construction and Development Corporation, said he refused to cooperate to undertake what he called ‘under the table transactions’, some of which were allegedly brokered by architect Rey Galua.
Lao said the project, the 8-storey Student Center and Education Complex worth P199,590,570.07, was halted "without due process" in spite of the firm’s having met all contractual obligations.
Lao said accomplishment of the project is about 60 percent.
Wing-An Construction and Development Corporation is based in San Juan City and was awarded the contract for the construction of USTP's 8-storey student center October 5, 2015.
Lao said the company was awarded with the project because of its experience in bored piling works which is a requirement for the construction.
Lao said he felt he was being pushed against the wall and made to answer supposed violations of the contract so he would give in to the supposed demands.
Lao said Rotoras signed the contract sometime in December 2015 and the construction started on January 2016.
He explained that the school released the 15 percent of the contract price as down payment which is the standard in government projects.
After completing 20 percent accomplishment of the project, Wing An billed the school but was turned down.
Lao said they were made to comply impositions which are not stipulated in the contract such as the full testing of the board piling which costs about P2 million.
Lao received the first billing payment in June 2016 after completing the bored piling testing.
He said Galua supposedly acted as Rotoras’ middle man and said Galua pressed him to give 10 percent or some P20 million as supposedly Rotoras’ ‘share’ from the project.
Lao said he turned down giving the slain president 10% and instead negotiated to bring down the ‘share’ to about 4%.
He said Rotoras, as supposedly relayed by Galua, refused to budge from his initial demand..
"Nong start ng second billing nilapitan ako ni Rey (Galua) at sinabing kung gusto ko daw na matapos ang project kailangan daw magbigay ako ng 10 percent kasi yan daw ang kalakaran. Sabi ko sobrang taas at wala sa usapan kaya nag-offer ako ng hanggang 4 percent at hindi tinanggap so sabi ko kung ayaw nyo huwag. Kaya nila ako pinahirapan (Rey approached me at the beginning of the second billing and told me to give 10 percent because that is how the business is done. I told him it is too much and offered to give until 4 percent but was refused. So I said forget it. That was why they made it difficult for me)," Lao said.
Lao said he could not give the 10 percent which was P19.9 million because he had until then only collected some P20 million.
He said he even incurred losses as his bank loans for the project already reached P38 million.
Lao said he also felt Rotoras and his supposed cohorts wanted them not to meet their contractual obligations so that the contract with Wing-An could be terminated and the project finished by some other contractor.
He said Rotoras blamed Galua on why the project was awarded to Wing An.
Lao said Rotoras and Galua eventually had a falling out prompting the latter to back Lao who had by then filed criminal and administrative cases against Rotoras and other university officials in relation to the project.