THE contractor of the unfinished P200-million building at the University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines (USTP) had repeatedly written to the Office of President to urge President Rodrigo Duterte to probe the alleged corrupt and illegal practices of the university’s top officials.
Engineer Selwyn Lao, president of Wing-An Construction and Development Corp., wrote a total of 14 letters, the first on November 3, 2016, and the latest on December 21, 2017, nineteen days after university president Dr. Ricardo Rotoras was murdered by gunmen outside his home.
In his letters to Duterte, Lao complained about alleged wrongdoing by the late Rotoras and supposedly by the former chairperson of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Patricia Licuanan in connection with the terminated P200-million building construction project.
Before she resigned as CHED chairperson, Licuanan sat at USTP's Board of Regents (BoR) as its chairperson.
In his January 4, 2017 letter-complaint to Duterte, Lao accused Rotoras and Licuanan for violations of anti-graft and corrupt practices act, CHED memorandum order No.16 series of 2009 through conspiracy and violation of the code of conduct and ethical standards for public officials and employees (RA 6713); and grave misconduct, dishonesty, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service through conspiracy.
Lao also pushed for the suspension of all personalities involved in the building construction project pending investigation.
Lao said he also pointed out Licuanan's supposedly illegal reappointment of Rotoras as USTP president.
Lao said the reappointment was in violation of the CHED rules of appointment because the Ombudsman had convicted Rotoras, along with other officials of the then Mindanao University of Science and Technology (MUST) for "Misconduct in office and violation of rules and regulations" for moral turpitude in 2011.
Lao also wrote the Office of the President about how the contract between his firm and the university was supposedly unjustly terminated and his collectibles were intentionally blocked because of his refusal to give the 10 percent 'grease money or SOP'.
Aside from the Office of the President, he said he also wrote letters addressed to the House of Representatives through Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.
Wing-An started the construction January 4, 2016, and the university officials stopped the project January 10, last year.
In his last letter last December 21, he reiterated his appeal to the Duterte administration to 'suppress corruption’ at the university.
"I am appealing once again, your sound discretion to conduct an investigation against these personalities, since 'this problem existed long time ago' and continued to persist until present,"reads part of one of Lao's letters.
Published in the SunStar Cagayan de Oro newspaper on January 20, 2018.