Lao wary of USTP’s sudden P8-M payment

THE University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines (USTP) has paid the erstwhile contractor of its unfinished P200-million building project some P8.4 million on Friday, February 2.

Engineer Selwyn Lao, president of Wing-An Construction and Development Corp., said he suddenly received an email from lawyer Jonathan Oche , USTP vice president for administration and legal affairs, last week informing him that he can already get the payment supposedly for second progress billing.

Lao said Wing-An’s second billing, dated September 15, 2016, was supposed to be P32,445,084.65 as payment for 35.5% work done on the project covering the period January 5 to September 14, 2016.

The check, received by one of Lao’s staff yesterday afternoon, amounted to only P8,370,258.59.

"Dalawa ang email niya (Oche) sa akin last week. Ang isa pwede na daw kunin ang cheke. Sunod naman for final billing na daw ito (Oche sent me 2 e mails last week. The first informed me that the check was ready for pick up. The next was that this was for the final billing) ,"Lao said.

"Di ako papayag kasi sa unang email nakalagay na voucher for second billing tapos sa second email final billing na daw (I do not agree to this because the first e mail indicated the voucher for second billing and the second said this was for the final billing),"Lao said.

But Lao said he decided to accept the check and said he responded to Oche last January 28, 2018 to reiterate his position that he be paid for 60.55 % of work done on the project.

"Apprehensive pa rin kami kasi di namin alam ang purpose nila bakit bigla nilang ni-release pero kukunin pa rin namin kahit for me hindi yan honest to goodness settlement (We are apprehensive because we do not know why they suddenly released the check. But we will still accept the payment even though that was not a honest to goodness settlement),"Lao said.

"Pwede naman palang ma-release bakit ngayon lang na last year pa yung mga billings. Feeling ko gusto nila akong i-pressure na i-drop at i-withraw lahat ng mg kaso ko (The payments could be released after all. I am wondering why only now when the billings were from last year. I feel they want to pressure me to drop the charges),"Lao added.

The university had earlier insisted that Wing-An had only finished 39.59 % of the building project and had told Lao that USTP would only pay for the corresponding amount.

"I am looking forward to your decision to pay the uncontested percentage of 39.59% without prejudice to Wing-An's rightful claim of 60.55%,"Lao said he wrote Oche.

Lao said the university still owes his firm some P65 million.

Lao also slammed the university officials for supposedly not following the billing method and guidelines for government projects.

"Wala na sila sa tamang computation. Dapat malinaw ang accounting ng gobyerno pati billing method guidelines. Sa amin naging magulo kasi ayaw nilang gamitin ang tamang guidelines (Their computation is wrong. They should adhere to the government’s billing method and guidelines to avoid confusion),"Lao said.
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