MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday, October 20, upheld a 2003 decision by the Ombudsman against several officers of the Public Estates Authority (PEA) and other respondents over the alleged overpricing of the Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard project in 2002.
In affirming the Ombudsman's ruling, the High Tribunal junked the petitions filed by Victor Lacson, Raphael Pocholo Zorilla, Cristina Amposta-Mortel, Manuel Berina Jr, Jaime Millan, Bernardo Viray, Frisco Francisco San Juan, Carmelita De Leon-Chan, Daniel Dayan, Salvador Malbarosa, Leo Padilla, Elpidio Damaso, and several other respondents.
The case stems from the allegedly anomalous bidding and implementation of the infrastructure project, which aimed to alleviate flooding and road congestion along Roxas Boulevard in Manila.
According to a Commission on Audit report, private contractor JD Legaspi Construction was paid more than P837 million, above the original contract price of more than P584 million.
In 2002, former PEA board member Sulficio Tagud filed a complaint-affidavit with the Ombudsman, saying that the project was overpriced and that the contractor's requests for price adjustments were approved by the 2001-2002 PEA board directors.
In 2003, the Ombudsman found probable cause to file graft charges against the respondents for giving unwarranted preference to JD Legaspi despite its lack of compliance with mandatory bidding procedures and requirements.
The court sentenced the accused to imprisonment of 6 to 8 years, with perpetual disqualification from holding public office.
As civil liability, they were also ordered to reimburse the government the cost of the improper contract price adjustment and the cost for the Seaside Drive Extension, amounting to a total of more than P100 million.