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Graft charges filed vs CDC execs over retirement village deal

By Edu Punay
Thursday, August 14, 2008 [ www.philstar.com ]

Graft charges have been filed against officials of the state-owned Clark Development Corp. (CDC) and private firm Fontana Development Corp. (FDC) before the Office of the Ombudsman for an alleged anomaly in the 50-year contract to build a retirement village at the Clark Freeport in Pampanga.

In an 11-page complaint, CDC and FDC officials were accused of entering a contract for the development of the 80-hectare village that is “manifestly disadvantageous to the government” in violation of Section 3 (g) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

In their complaint, local contractors Anteva Group Corp. (AGC) and New Kanlaon Construction Inc. (NKCI) alleged that the contract signed by the respondents last Jan. 25 deprived the government of some P2 billion in revenues since it was awarded to a contractor at a measly rate.

“In awarding 37.46 hectares through the supplemental lease agreement dated Jan. 25, 2008 to Fontana Development Corp. which includes the 29.64-hectare portion covered by the firm proposal of AGC and NKCI for $3,084,131 with a term of 50 years or measly rate of $0.014337 per square meter per month, which is substantially below the $0.10 square meter per month offer of AGC and NKCI, respondent CDC officers entered into a contract manifestly disadvantageous to the government,” stated the complaint, a copy of which was obtained by The STAR.

CDC and FDC officials also allegedly violated various executive orders for supposedly entering into a contract only through negotiations without the necessary public bidding.

Named respondents in the complaint were former CDC president and chief executive officer Liberato Laus, executive vice president and chief operations officer Jose Panlilio, and vice president for business and development Ernesto Gorospe, and FDC vice president Angelo Patrick Advincula.

The complainants said they offered to develop 73.1 hectares of land at the Clark Freeport at a lease rate of $0.10 per square meter per month two years ago, but were surprised to learn that the contract was awarded to FDC at a much lower cost.

They said Laus, who recently resigned from the CDC, threw out their proposal even if his predecessor, Antonio Ng, approved it in principle in 2006.

The Pasig regional trial court earlier issued an injunction order against the CDC, saying the deal is laden with “badges of irregularity” and that it is “brazenly anomalous as it is grossly disadvantageous to the government.”

The FDC is the gambling firm previously owned by Lucio Co and Robin Tan, known allies of ousted President Joseph Estrada, which was bought by Chinese businessman Jack Lam in 2005.

Lam, chairman of Jimei Group Inc. that owns recreational facilities in Macau, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Korea, also operates the 200-hectare Fontana Leisure Park in Clark Field that was reportedly rocked recently by labor and immigration scandals for allegedly favoring undocumented Chinese workers over local laborers.

The property gained notoriety in 1999 when then popular allies of Estrada, Charlie “Atong” Ang and Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis “Chavit” Singson, fought for control over it.

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