FIVE days before the May 13 midterm elections, the battle for the top seats at the Provincial Capitol is heating up further as Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia (Cebu, 3rd District) filed criminal and administrative charges against Gov. Hilario Davide III, Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale and three others before the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas over the construction of the 20-story Cebu Provincial Resource Center project which she called “Torre de Davide.”
Garcia lodged a complaint for violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Grave Misconduct and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service against Davide, Magpale, Provincial Administrator Mark Tolentino, who also heads the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC), contractor WT Construction Inc. and Marissa Anino, head of Cebu Lending Center of the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) before the anti-graft office on Wednesday, May 8.
Garcia, who will be facing Magpale in the gubernatorial race, also asked the Ombudsman to preventively suspend the public officials so they may not tamper with the evidence and witnesses against them which are at their disposal and control.
But Davide remained unfazed and called the development a “desperate move.”
In a statement issued by Davide’s camp on Wednesday afternoon, May 8, he said “This is yet another desperate move by Garcia.”
“I thought they sued us already before the RTC (Regional Trial Court) Toledo City. This is purely a publicity stunt to gain more political mileage. We will just await the Ombudsman’s order for us to respond to the complaint. Katong kiha niya sa RTC Toledo mao to ang iyang opening salvo. Kani iyang kiha na pud sa Ombudsman, mao ni iyang closing. Bida! (The charges she filed before the RTC in Toledo were her opening salvo, and this new complaint filed before the Ombudsman is her closing. Damn!),” Davide said.
Magpale, for her part, said she will just wait for the copy of the complaint before commenting on the matter.
In a 16-page complaint, Garcia accused the respondents of conspiring with each other in signing the questionable and illegal documents in relation to the construction of the P1.5 billion Cebu Provincial Resource Center.
On May 7, 2018, Davide was authorized under Resolution No. 1128-2018 to enter into and sign an Omnibus Loan Term Agreement with DBP for the P1,525,000,000 loan to finance the construction of the Cebu Provincial Resource Center.
It will be constructed beside the Cebu Provincial Capitol building.
On May 23, 2018, Davide signed the agreement; however, on the same day, he also signed the Deed of Assignment with Hold Out for the continuing assignment by the Province to DBP of sizeable portions of its internal revenue allotment and other income even if he had no authority to do it.
On Jan. 28, 2019, Garcia said that “in a futile and underhanded attempt to justify respondents’ illegal action, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan presided by Magpale passed Resolution No. 259-2019 enacting Ordinance No. 2019-09 which provides for the ratification of the Term Loan Agreement and Deed of Assignment with Hold-Out that was executed by Davide with DBP.”
Garcia also alleged that the respondents proceeded with the awarding of the project even if it lacks the source of funds.
Apart from it, Garcia said the implementation of the project is also in violation of Republic Act 10066 or the National Cultural Heritage Act, which prohibits the modification, alteration and destruction of the original features or undertakes construction or real estate development in any national shrine, monument, landmark and other historical edifices and structures.
An injunction suit over the same project filed by Garcia and Provincial Board Member Alex Binghay is also pending before the Regional Trial Court in Toledo City.