THE owner of CT Leoncio Construction and Trading, the alleged favored contractor of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), admitted Thursday, January 3, that the firm has a joint venture agreement with a construction company owned by the in-laws of Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno.
Consolacion Leoncio, owner of CT Leoncio, said, however, that she does not personally know Diokno nor Casiguran town Mayor Edwin Hamor.
Hamor and his relatives allegedly own Aremar Construction, which has cornered about one-third of CT Leoncio's 36 infrastructure projects in Sorsogon and Catanduanes.
CT Leoncio is the contractor of P1.6 billion worth of infrastructure projects in Sorsogon and Catanduanes. Of this amount, P550 million worth of projects are being undertaken by Aremar.
Other owners of Aremar Construction, according to the documents obtained by Andaya are Hamor’s daughter Maria Minez Hamor, Martin Aber Sicat, Maria Charisma Sicat, Romeo Sicat Jr., and Edmon Bautista.
Romeo is the husband of Charlotte Diokno-Sicat, Diokno’s daughter.
Asked during the hearing to confirm if CT Leoncio construction firm indeed gave half a billion worth of projects to Aremar, Leoncio said: “hindi ko po alam. JVA po kami (I don't know. We have a JVA).”
Leoncio also said she does not know personally Diokno or Hamor.
“Yung Aremar, nakilala ko yan dahil sa kanila ako kumukuha ng graba. Sa kaniya rin ako nagrerenta ng equipment,” she said. She added she also rents constrcution equipments to Aremar.
“Ang talagang nakakakilala diyan ay yung liason ko na si Francis Clemente. Lumapit lang ang Aremar at sinabi na kung pwede mag-JV kami. Ako naman ang talagang kausap ko diyan ay yung liason ko po. Kaya sabi ko wala namang masama, kung makakatulong ako para lumaki ang sales nila, yun lang po,” Leoncio said.
In an interview after the hearing, the legal counsel of CT Leoncio, Rafael Madrid, said CT Leoncio entered into a JVA with Aremar without knowing that Diokno’s in-laws own the firm.
“No in general. Tatanungin niyo kung may koneksiyon. Of course kilala naman natin si Secretary Diokno siguro pwede na natin sabihin CT Leoncio has explained na earlier naman na meron silang joint venture ni Aremar and in fact a joint venture is not an ordinary thing. In fact meron yang approval ng DPWH,” Madrid said.
“Somehow nagkakaroon ng inkling na may connection si CT Leoncio kay Aremar and the Aremar has connections pala kay Diokno. Pero unfair naman to jump into conclusions na kaya nagkaproject si CT Leoncio at si Aremar dahil kay Diokno. Not necessarilty true kasi CT Leoncio has been in Bicol for quite sometime kahit wala pa si Secretray Diokno,” Madrid added.
He said further: “Sa records namin, since 2010 nagjoin na.”
House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr., chairman of the committee on rules, said he was convinced that Leoncio does not have any knowedge about the relationship between Diokno and Hamor when they entered into a JVA with Aremar.
“Unang-una halata namin na si Mrs. Leoncio ay detached. Financier lang siya. Yun nga ang sasabihin ko sana kanina, pinigilan natin. A testimony against her self-interest. Ayaw naman nating mapahiya yung tao. Kitang-kita naman sa galaw niya na ginagamit lang ang kanyang lisensya at nangungumisyon na lang siya. Sa dami naman ng contractor sa buong Pilipinas ay halata naman na hindi niya alam yung status ng mga projects na napasukan niya. At hindi rin niya alam na yung lahat ng sinubmit niyang documents, xerox lang at iisa lang,” he said in a press conference after the hearing.
“Kitang kita naman sa galaw niya na ginagamit lang ang kaniyang lisensiya at nangungumisyon na lang siya. Sa dami ng kontrata niya as Pilipinas halata naman na hindi niya alam yung status ng mga projects na pinasukan niya,” Andaya also said.
Andaya has ordered the committee on rules to subpoena the liason officer of Leoncio, the officials of the Commission on Audit and the Anti-Money Laundering Council to give information as to the bank transactions of CT Leoncio and Aremar.
The House panel is looking into the allegedly anomalous projects in Sorsogon that were supposedly inserted by the DBM into the proposed 2019 budget.
The budget has not been approved and the government is operating on a re-enacted 2018 budget. (SunStar Philippines)