Trillanes seeks probe into multibillion projects 'awarded' to Bong Go's family

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV has sought a probe into the multi-billion peso contracts supposedly awarded to firms owned by Special Assistant to the President Bong Go's father and half-brother in Davao Region.

Trillanes filed Senate Resolution 889 on Wednesday, September 12, directing his committee on civil service, government reorganization and professional regulation to lead the investigation.

It remains to be seen if the resolution would be referred to his panel, as similar measures were previously referred to the Senate blue ribbon committee chaired by administration Senator Richard Gordon.

Citing Article 7, Section 13 of the 1987 Constitution, the senator said Cabinet members shall not, during tenure, directly or indirectly, practice in any profession, participate in any business, or be financially interested in any contract with, or in any franchise, or special privilege granted by the government.

Trillanes also cited Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, which prohibits conflict of interest.

"Government officials and employees are held with higher set of standards. They are expected at all times to put the interest of the public above their own," Trillanes said in his resolution.

"Hence, there is an urgent need to look into this matter as conflict of interest or undue influence exerted by government officials and employees in the conduct of government transactions threatens the quality of service the public is receiving," he added.

When he first announced his plan to file the measure on Monday, September 10, the senator said: "Mga construction projects ito sa kumpanya niya at kanyang pamilya. So maliwanag na corruption 'yan (These are construction projects of his and his family's company. So this is clearly corruption)."

Trillanes, holed up in his Senate office for a week now following President Rodrigo Duterte’s revocation of his amnesty, said he was not doing it out of revenge.

"Ginagawa ko ito kasi ito na ang dati kong ginagawa simula't sapul. Kung may revenge, sila 'yun kasi hindi naman ako ang nag-iimbento (I'm doing this because this is what I've been doing from the start. If there is anyone out for revenge, that would be them because I'm not in the habit of inventing things)," he said.

The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), in its report published September 6, said President Rodrigo Duterte “gave the largest share of public works funds in the 2017 national budget” to his home region, Davao Region.

PCIJ also reported that CLTG Builders, supposedly owned by Go’s father Deciderio, and Alfrego Builders, owned by Go’s half-brother Alfredo Go, were among the contractors that received billions in contracts.

“The company that bears the initials of the presidential aide appears in Davao City’s 10 biggest contractors year-on-year from 2010 to 2017, according to DPWH data,” the report said.

“CLTG won a total of P1.85 billion worth of infrastructure projects for Davao Region from 2007 to 2017. This has yet to include the P2.7 billion worth of contracts won by CLTG through joint ventures with four other contractors, including Alfrego Builders,” it added.

“In sum, CLTG has been awarded P4.6 billion worth of projects, all from the DPWH, in the past decade. It won more than half of that total only last year, however. None of these projects has been awarded by the local government of Davao City,” PCIJ said in its report.

PCIJ tried to get the side of the President’s closest aide but to no avail. Instead, Go slammed the report as “fake news," as he denied corruption allegations.

“Being related to me does not disqualify them to bid. These projects are publicly bidded anyway. I never intervened nor influenced the DPWH on how they bid or award these projects. My office does not control the DPWH to begin with,” Go said.

This was not the first time Go was accused of intervening in big-ticket projects. In 2017 and based on documents obtained by Rappler, Go intervened in the P15.7-billion Navy frigates deal. (READ: DOCUMENTS: How Bong Go is linked thrice to frigates deal)

The former Navy chief, backed by the Technical Working Group, wanted a different supplier of the Combat Management Systems (CMS) for the frigates, but in the end, the Navy chose the other company, Hanhwa, as supplier.

Go denied any knowledge about the project, even as his office set a meeting with Navy officers to settle the issue. Malacañang had also denied that Go intervened in the project. – Rappler.com

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Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is a multimedia reporter focusing on media, technology, and disinformation.

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