MANILA – Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon is undaunted. Although last Saturday, he was shouted at and finger-pointed by Senate President Franklin Drilon at a party over a House Resolution he filed last week, he continues to champion this resolution.
In a privilege speech today Ridon asked Congress to immediately start investigating government projects contracted with Hilmarc’s Construction Corporation, for possible corruption and overpricing. Hilmarc’s is already under question due to a Senate probe on Vice President Jejomar Binay and the alleged overpricing in the construction of a Makati building. The Senate has so far held four hearings including a visit to the allegedly overpriced building.
The contractor that built the allegedly overpriced Makati parking building has also figured in a number of government infrastructure projects, including a pet project of Senate President Drilon: the Iloilo Convention Center. In a country where corruption in government is said to be systemic and the current administration is claiming good governance to counter it, the Kabataan lawmaker is testing whether projects of President Aquino’s allies with the same controversial contractor will also be investigated.
He is pushing for it especially since, citing the Iloilo convention center as an example, it had cost twice that of similar infrastructures and of usual cost valuation for local government projects. Ridon is also questioning how the convention center project became a negotiated contract when he and his staff cannot find any document showing that there had been a second failed competitive bidding, as required before entering into negotiated contracts.
In his privilege speech in Congress which is now deliberating on the Aquino administration’s proposed 2015 budget, Ridon reminded lawmakers that “the nation cannot have a double standard of truth and justice.”
Even as Vice President Binay has to explain the alleged overpricing of the Makati parking building, so must Senate President Drilon explain his pet infrastructure project with the same contractor.
Drilon’s pet Iloilo Convention Center project has nearly the same costing of about sixty thousand pesos per square meter as Binay’s Makati building.
At a party last Saturday where senators and representatives mingled with other guests, Senator Drilon had reportedly shouted at Kabataan Rep. Ridon infront of guests, telling Ridon: “Jesus Christ, why do you keep insulting me? What did I ever do to you?”
This Sunday, Drilon said the band had been too loud. “That’s why I raised my voice at him (Ridon).”
The youth lawmaker said in his privilege speech that any senior statesman worth his salt would most definitely issue an apology for this public tirade. But he thought this is expecting too much from the Senate President.
Ridon clarified in his speech that he did not single out Senator Drilon in his resolution. “There were other possibly overpriced projects listed in that particular resolution,” he said.
He urged the House Committee on Rules to immediately refer House Resolution 1466 to the Committee on Public Works and Highways so Congress can start its investigation. (bulatlat.com)