Provincial Board okays charges over ‘anomalous’ investment deal

THE Cebu Provincial Board (PB) has authorized Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia to file criminal, administrative and civil charges against those responsible for alleged “anomalous and grossly disadvantageous” transactions made by the Province in a joint investment agreement (JIA) with Manila Water Consortium Inc. (MWCI).

During its regular session on Monday, Sept. 21, 2020, the PB approved a resolution sponsored by PB Member John Ismael Borgonia allowing Garcia to prepare the necessary evidence to file charges against certain individuals and entities responsible for the deal.

This after the Governor’s office completed its investigation into alleged anomalies committed by some Capitol officials in the deal with MWCI, said Borgonia, chair of the PB committee on laws.

Borgonia, however, refused to identify those involved in the transaction to avoid preempting the Provincial Legal Office.

“The Governor’s office and the Provincial Legal Office along with her (Garcia) legal consultants have already initiated an investigation and have already presented their findings. It will now be up to them to decide if they will push through with the case,” Borgonia said.

Immediately after she was elected governor in 2019, Garcia ordered a review of the JIA between the Province and MWCI after noticing changes to the deal that the Province signed with the firm during her time as governor in 2012.

The Province’s JIA with MWCI amounting to P702 million was for the latter to develop water supply facilities by tapping Luyang River in Carmen town, northern Cebu.

Upon review, Garcia’s legal consultants found that the consortium increased the project cost of the water supply facility to P1.003 billion or by more than P301 million.

They also found that Capitol failed to receive any share of the profit from the joint investment project which should have been 19.23 percent as the province’s share of the earnings were used to cover for its 49 percent share in the P301 million additional capital investment.

Aside from this, MWCI also increased the price of the water supply sold from P13.95 per cubic meter to P24.59 or P10.64 more than the original price.

In December 2019, the PB granted Garcia authority to terminate the JIA with the MWCI after it failed to resolve alleged violations. (ANV / MMC)


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