THE camp of governor-elect Gwen Garcia has questioned the Davide administration’s move to seek disbursement of around P194.8 million as advance payment to the contractor of the Provincial Resource Center.
Provincial Accountant Marieto Ipil, though, has repeatedly denied the release of the payment, prompting vice governor-elect Hilario Davide III to insist that he is still governor until noon of June 30, 2019.
“In spite of all his (Davide) pronouncements, thumping all his chest for his moralistic glory, they continued to process this huge amount in order to pay the contractor for a project that will no longer be implemented. The fact that they are still asking for advance payment for a project that will not be continued, in itself is already a contradiction and a sheer waste of government funds,” Garcia told reporters in a press conference last Monday, June 10.
The issue came to light after Ipil returned a letter-request, dated May 30, sent by Provincial Engineer Hector Jamora on the disbursement voucher recommending the release of P194,849,570 as advance payment to WT Construction Inc. (WTCI) for the construction of the 20-story facility.
The amount will serve as 15-percent mobilization fee of the resource center’s contract price of P1,298,997,129.10.
“The same cannot be given due course as the incoming administration has publicly manifested that the same is not her priority project, which will render the recoupment of the advanced amount uncertain and in effect, will disadvantage the Cebu Provincial Government by not being able to recover the advance payment. It may be noted that the submitted surety bond will not cover for performance failure if not attributed to the principal, which is WT Construction Inc.,” wrote Ipil.
Because of this, Jamora sought the legal opinion of Provincial Attorney Orvi Ortega. Ortega granted it with the concurrence of Provincial Administrator Mark Tolentino. The legal opinion was attached to the second endorsement submitted to Ipil’s office.
In a letter dated May 31, Ortega said Ipil did not mention any lacking supporting document as his basis for returning the disbursement voucher, nor did he refer to any existing auditing rules and regulations.
Ortega said the court did not issue any restraining order or writ of preliminary injunction against the construction of the resource center.
Ipil, though, stood pat and did not heed the requests to act on the disbursement voucher.
In separate letters sent to Davide and WTCI last June 3, Garcia’s camp formally expressed the governor-elect’s contention to not include the project in her program of government when she assumes office at noon of June 30.
The following day, on June 4, Ipil forwarded to Davide the disbursement voucher for WTCI.
“We are constrained to proceed with its processing after we received yesterday (June 3) a formal notice issued by the transition team of governor-elect (Garcia) addressed to your honor a copy of which was furnished this office relaying a warning to all concerned department heads not to process any and all billing related to the said project,” wrote Ipil.
Davide, though, returned the voucher along with its supporting documents to Ipil in a memorandum dated June 7.
“Bear in mind that I am still the chief executive of the Province of Cebu until noontime of June 30. Your statement, therefore, in your endorsement that you were acting upon the letter of the incoming governor insults me. In case you have forgotten, the governor-elect’s term of office as representative of the third district of the Province of Cebu, like mine, ends at noontime of June 30. Until then, she is not the governor... I shall consider your willful defiance of this directive a patent act of insubordination,” wrote Davide.
The development has provoked the ire of the governor-elect, who reiterated her intent to forgo the resource center and to focus instead on health, infrastructure and education, among others.
“Davide, soon to be governor no more, I am very much offended and insulted in the name of the Cebuanos. Naghilas-hilas ka. Klaro na ka kaayo. Ayaw na pun-i ang imong mga nabuhat sulod sa unom ka tuig. Pun-an pa nimo niining tataw nga pag usik-usik sa kwarta (You are being arrogant and being too obvious. You’ve already done enough in the past six years. You’re trying to add this clear waste of money),” Garcia said.
Davide, for his part, remains unfazed. Sought for comment, he replied: “This is a matter already in court, and therefore, no longer the proper subject of a press con, even more so because they have no restraining order. At any rate, since they continue to do this, we will just refer this to our lawyers to file the appropriate action before the court.”
Meanwhile, it was learned that the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) did not issue a permit for the construction of the resource center.
According to NHCP Chairman Rene Escalante, the Provincial Government did not formally apply for a clearance from his office.
“The Provincial Government’s argument is ‘we (NHCP) cannot assume jurisdiction (of the project) because it is a new construction,” Escalante said. (With SCG of SuperBalita Cebu, PJB)