Osmeña accused of protecting bridge supplier

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Monday, October 8, 2012

A CONGRESSMAN linked to the allegedly anomalous P111-billion President's Bridge Program (PBP) blasted Senator Sergio Osmeña III for using his power and authority to protect the interest of a British bridge-building firm.
In a privilege speech Monday, Ang Kasangga party-list Representative Teodorico Haresco accused Osmeña of using him as "decoy" to protect Balfour Cleveland (a.k.a. Balfour Beatty and Cleveland Bridges UK), which was earlier found by the Commission on Audit to have cost the government P5.43 billion in cost overruns.

Osmeña earlier accused Haresco of being directly involved in the PBP when he was serving as special representative for promotions for another firm, Mabey & Johnson Ltd. for Asia.
The senator said that not only were the bridges overpriced, they were also useless because some of them were built without road connections.
"The allegations are baseless, improbable, and absurd. More importantly, it is unbecoming of this honorable senator who has blatantly violated not only the rules of inter-parliamentary courtesy, but also my constitutional rights to due process," Haresco said.
"Why is this honorable senator trying desperately to draw attention to the Tulay ng Pangulo or the President's Bridge Program to the best-performing bridge supplier among nine other foreign bridge suppliers?" Haresco asked.
Haresco urged the House of Representatives to investigate Balfour Cleveland's "poor contract performance and cost overruns" and also "expose the powerful politician" protecting the firm.
Haresco made the call a day before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee is scheduled to investigate the PBP during the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Arroyo earlier slammed Osmeña for singling her out even if the program spans four administrations, starting from that of former President Fidel Ramos.
The party-list lawmaker also tagged Director Ramon Cacatian of the Special Project Management Office of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for signing Balfour Cleveland's contract.
Cacatian, Haresco said, is a frequent visitor of the senator.
"Whose interest does this honorable senator truly serve?" Haresco said referring to Osmeña.
"This honorable senator embarks on failed witch hunts against big businesses and businessmen with regularity, abusing his authority and assets of the state time and again to further his goals," Haresco added. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)

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