>BY PET MELLIZA, The Beekeeper
Ace Builders, Inc. already laughed its way to the bank by the time Iloilo City chief legal counsel Junio Jacela dropped by its office in Metro Manila last September to serve a notice of rescission of the infamous P135-million contract to construct low cost housing units in Pavia, Iloilo.
Atty. Jacela reported that the notice of rescission could no longer be served because the contractor could no longer be located.
Today, Mayor Jedd Patrick Mabilog wants a “closure” to the scandal – by sweeping it under the rug and not by hauling the contractor and its co-conspirators to the court.
Mabilog today busies himself bleeding vehicle owners plying city streets by pulling off another money-making scheme of compelling them to buy “stickers” worth P100 to P500 for 2010 — that loses its validity its validity at 12 midnight of December 31.
The “Pavia housing scam” began in 2001 although actual civil works started only after Buenaventura Geronimo aka “Jerry” Treñas sat for his first term as mayor. A year after, a disgruntled sub-contractor blew the whistle on Ace Builders which gave them a pittance, thus, the birth of the term. Ace Builders tapped locals as sub-contractors but officials under Treñas mulcted the main contractor prompting the latter to give mere crumbs to sub-contractors.
Despite the brouhaha and Ace Builders having ceased construction activity on the housing site, Treñas faithfully paid the later. That is baffling: the mayor is a lawyer and it stretches the imagination how he deliberately failed to twist its arm to ensure compliance to the contract. We could not imagine that the head of a well-known law office that specializes on corporate law easily skirted the New Civil Code that provides remedies to parties in a contract aggrieved by the other’s party’s deliberate failure to perform.
In 2003, the “committee of the whole” of the sangguniang panglungsod released its findings holding several persons liable, Treñas foremost among whom, for putting Iloilo city in a disadvantageous position on one hand and in giving undue favors to the culprit instead of throwing the monkey wrench on it.
Before the 2004 elections lawyers Antonio Pesina and Romeo Gerochi filed separate graft charges against Treñas, et. That’s on top of the complaint that the committee-of-the-whole lodged with the Office of the Ombudsman.
Today, Virginia Palanca-Santiago, assistant ombudsman for the Visayas and the head of its regional office in Western Visayas based in Iloilo City, continues to drag her foot on the separate complaints. Gerochi is contemplating of filing mandamus suit against her for her inaction. She is the same Virginia Palanca-Santiago who is the heroine in the 21-series column of yours truly dubbed “Virginia Palanca-Santiago’s exercise of raw power” where yours truly pilloried her for hastily convicting the innocent, even to the point of rigging decision and issuing the most idiotic of opinions if only to justify her rigged decision that she did in “People’s Graftwatch of Iloilo, Inc. vs Mayor Jaime Esmeralda, et”.
In that case, for example, she prejudged the case and speedily placed Esmeralda et al to a six-month preventive suspension though her victims’ answers were yet in transitu to her office in Cebu. That fact alone suffices my decision to call her a “moral pygmy whose sense of right and wrong is as revolting as her looks”.
Back to Treñas, et al, the Pavia housing scam can’t have a closure, it will continue to haunt us as Treñas’s successor prefers to act like a blind and dumb donkey.
Mabilog could pay dearly for his complacency with his “forgive and forget” stance; he should investigate and haul Treñas et al. to his “truth commission” led by Victor Facultad to find out why Treñas continued paying Ace Builders despite the contractor’s act of robbing Ilonggos blind. The City of Iloilo paid a total of P90 million to Ace Builders and we don’t want to believe that Treñas et al partook of the loot that made them acquiescent to the contractor laughing its way to the bank, without lifting a finger to sue it or seize its contractor’s and performance bonds to compensate for the losses sustained by city taxpayers.
Treñas is now congressman and chairs, susmaryosep! of all things, the committee on good government. On the other hand, city taxpayers bleed P17,000 daily paying for the interest of the Pavia housing loan alone. That’s P510,000 per month and P6,120,000 per year which is enough to erect a two-storey calaboose in three years to throw Treñas and cabal in, a fate they rightly deserve.