IS there a conflict of interest in the involvement of a Cebu City Hall consultant in the proposed operations of a power plant in Cebu City?
For Councilor Ma. Nida Cabrera, there is conflict of interest in the involvement of Cerwin Eviota in the activities that the Ludo Power Corp. (LPC) is doing, considering that he is a consultant of the City Government.
He is City Hall’s consultant on development, communication and training.
LPC is the proponent of the proposed 300-megawatt, coal-fired power plant project in Barangay Sawang Calero, that is asking for a favorable endorsement from the City.
“Ika-duha na ni nga higayon nga involved siya og private company, dili sad maayo tan-awn kay connected man gud siya sa Siyudad,” Cabrera said.
Last April 16, when the City Council’s committee on environment held a public hearing with the affected residents and LPC at the Cebu City Sports Institute in Sawang Calero, Eviota was present and even tried to speak on the private company’s behalf, Cabrera said.
Eviota was also with the LPC officials when they entered the venue of the public hearing.
When asked for comment, Eviota said he is not a direct employee of the clients he serves, but a professional service provider.
“We work at their pleasure according to what they expect us to deliver and by the confidence of the (authorized) contracting persons. As advertising agencies practice, we handle no directly (head-on) competing clients or parties for that in our view is what conflict of interest is,” Eviota said in a text message sent to Sun.Star Cebu.
The issue on conflict of interest was first raised against Eviota when Mayor Michael Rama had to intervene in the row between Filinvest Land Inc. and the Cebu Property Ventures and Development Corp. over the use of Geonzon St. inside the Cebu IT Park.
Eviota also handles the press relations concerns of FLI, the joint venture partner of the City for the development of a 40-hectare lot at the South Road Properties.
In an interview last Monday, Rama confirmed that Eviota is his consultant, but he said he has no idea that the latter is also handling LPC.
“I don’t have to think about that, let that issue be up and let it be answered by him. He will have to answer it and not me answering for him because I wasn’t there and I have no document,” Rama told Sun.Star Cebu.
When asked what Eviota’s involvement is with the LPC, the firm’s community relations officer, Nelson Yuvallos, said the City Hall consultant is not affiliated with the company.
He said Eviota is his personal consultant and assistant and not the company’s.
“He has no contract with us and not connected to Ludo Power,” Yuvallos said.
Based on the definition of the Civil Service Commission (CSC), a consultant is one who provides professional advice on matters within the field of his special knowledge or training.
There is no employer-employee relationship in the engagement of a consultant, but that of client-professional relationship, that is why consultancy services are not considered government service and a consultant is not considered a government employee, as stated under CSC Resolution 95-6939 dated Nov. 2, 1995.
Section 1b of Rule 9 of the Rules Implementing the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standard for Public Officials and Employees or the Republic Act 6713 states that conflict of interest occurs when the official or employee is a substantial stockholder, or a member of the Board of Directors, or an officer of the corporation, or an owner or has substantial interest in a business, or a partner in a partnership and when the interest of such corporation or business, or his rights or duties therein, are opposed to or affected by the faithful performance of official duty.