MANDAUE City Mayor Jonas Cortes yesterday ordered contractors implementing Rep. Nerissa Soon-Ruiz’s project to stop their work or face arrest.
This, after the backhoe of the contractor of Ruiz’s project crushed yesterday a newly asphalted road, a project of Cortes, to give way to Ruiz’s road concreting project on J. Colina St. in Barangay Ibabao-Estancia.
The mayor, who will be putting up a drainage and road concreting project on J. Colina St., rushed to the site together with city officials and the police, including a team from the Special Weapons and Tactics.
He then ordered Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Construction Section Engineer Renault Ricardo and DPWH Project Engineer Nelson Cabizas to stop their ground-breaking activity or face arrest.
The mayor and his men also ordered heavy equipment operator Felix Visitation of HES Real Constructor in Cebu City to turn off the engine.
Ruiz, in a press statement, accused the mayor of project terrorism, “to undermine what I am doing for the city.”
In yesterday’s incident, one of the field officers was allegedly reeking with liquor said the mayor’s adviser Atty. Francisco Amit but they decided not to have him arrested as he and the others followed the mayor’s order.
Cortes said the crushing of the 50-meter long J. Colina St. is destruction of government property and a waste of public funds.
Amit said even the DPWH district engineer is liable for violating Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
Sec. 3a of the said act states as a violation the “persuading, inducing or influencing another public officer to perform an act constituting a violation of rules and regulations duly promulgated by competent authority or an offense in connection with the official duties of the latter, or allowing himself to be persuaded, induced, or influenced to commit such violation or offense”.
City Administrator Briccio Boholst said Ruiz is liable of violating the said section as a “principal by induction.”
Cortes also criticized Ruiz for her failure to coordinate with City Hall in the implementation of her projects.
But Ruiz, who will be running against Cortes in the May elections, said her office sent a letter to the mayor regarding the J. Colina St. project but the mayor did not send any reply.
“It has been the practice of my office, since the start of the mayor’s term, to inform him every time DBM (Department of Budget and Management) releases fund allocation of what project will be undertaken so that duplication is avoided and that the city’s financial resources can be put in good use,” she said.
Cortes’s special project consultant Edmund Sanchez said “informing” and “coordinating” are two very different things.
But Ruiz “strongly denounced” Cortes’s act of terrorism or the use of brute force in stopping a National Government project that could benefit Mandauehanons.
The J. Colina road project is funded through Ruiz’s priority development assistance fund.
Ruiz said the mayor’s drainage project will complement her project.
“The mayor has no visible project in Mandaue and he wants to undermine what I am doing for the city,” Ruiz stated.
To show how Ruiz’s failure to coordinate has resulted in the wastage of government funds, Cortes showed to reporters another project of the congresswoman in Barangay Tingub, some eight kilometers away from J. Colina St., wherein the concreting project traversed a lot owned by Perla Lumapas, a private owner.
Perla’s son Stephen, who built a house on top of the concrete road, told Sun.Star Cebu that a 50-square-meter portion of the lot was affected.
The project was implemented by San Narciso Builders on Jan. 12, 2009 and was completed on Feb. 26, 2009.
Ruiz’s chief of staff, Gonzalo Malig-on, said the issue on the Tingub property was already resolved and it was the DPWH’s fault, not the congress-woman’s.
Still, the congresswoman is liable of graft, said Amit, adding that they are now preparing complaints.
He said the spending of people’s money on a privately-owned lot in Tingub has already been committed.
Both officials had been trading barbs since the mayor assumed office in 2007 and this is the first time Cortes will formalize his complaint against Ruiz.