Ombudsman wants Lim, Moreno, 20 others probed on sale of Century Park
By Charlie V. Manalo
The Daily Tribune
The Office of the Ombudsman has ordered a probe of Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, Vice Mayor Isko Moreno along with 20 city councilors and several officials for the alleged rigged sale of a five-star hotel in Manila.
According to Assistant Ombudsman Jose de Jesus, Ombudsman spokesman, they will now evaluate the case against Lim and the other officials of Manila and proceed accordingly with the rules of their office.
The Ombudsman official said after evaluating the case, if warranted, they will proceed with the preliminary investigation of the case to determine if there is probable cause to indict them criminally before the Sandiganbayan or they could be found administratively liable.
“We will evaluate and proceed accordingly (with the investigation) and if warranted we will proceed with the official investigation of the case,” De Jesus said.
He added Lim and the other officials could still be subjected to preventive suspension despite the existing election ban in imposing penalties on government officials because the case filed against Lim and the Manila officials is graft.
It was pointed out that as a general rule, the Office of the Ombudsman could no longer impose sanctions during the election period but the only exception is when the crime committed involves graft and corruption.
“As a general rule bawal ng mag-suspend. But in this case covered yan ng suspension if evidence warrant after the conduct of a proper investigation since the crime involved is graft,” De Jesus said.
The case was already docketed by the Office of the Ombudsman.
In a 24-page Complaint-Affidavit earlier filed by lawyer Reynaldo Bagatsing, Lim and the Manila officials were charged for violating section 3e and g of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for causing undue injury to the government and to private bidders after the sale of the land where Century Park Hotel stands.
Aside from Lim and Moreno or Francisco Dumagoso in real life, also included in the charge sheet were Bids and Awards Committee chairman and secretary to the mayor Rafaelito Garayblas, along with BAC members Lourdes Manlulu, Thelma Perez, Alicia Moscaya, Roberto Amores, Racquel Acosta and Ronald Siojo.
Councilors charged with graft were Moises Lim, Erick Ian Nieva, Arlene Koa, Ernesto Dionisio Jr., Carlo Lopez, Rolando Valeriano, Ernesto Isip Jr., Yul Servo, Maira Sheila Lacuna-Pangan, Luisito Chua, Edward Maceda, Victoriano Melendez, Roderick Valbuena, Raymundo Yupangco, Josefina Siscar, Ernesto Rivera, Danilo Victor Lacuna and Russel Ibay.
The officials were also charged for violating the Local Government Code for giving undue preference to a private party and entering into a contract without the benefit of public bidding.
It was alleged in the complaint that on Sept. 16, 2008 a public bidding was conducted but they announced that it is a failed bidding. The property covered is the real property of Century Park Hotel owned by the City of Manila which is 45,680 square meters.
Bidding was repeated on Sept. 30, 2008 after publication and two bidders participated, namely, Maranaw Hotels and Restaurant Corp. which submitted a bid of P1 billion and AM Oreta and Co. Inc. which tendered a bid of P997,300,000.
Bagatsing argued that Lim, Moreno and the other officials committed criminal acts when they disposed the two parcels of land through a rigged bidding after passing City Council Resolution 176 Series of 2008 which “authorized City Mayor Alfredo Lim to enter into a negotiated sale of the property of the City of Manila.”
This was followed by a malicious notice and defective Notice of Public Auction questionable proceedings of the Committee on Awards of the City of Manila. The three-day notice given in the newspapers of the sale is not fair and equal chance to participate in the public auction.
It was also stated that supplementary contract entered into by and between the City of Manila and Tourist Trade and Travel Corporation on Aug. 1, 2003 clearly shows that the market value of the improvements (Century Park Hotel) is already valued at P1 billion.
It was stated in the final appraisal report the entire property will command an aggregate value of P1,705,339,637, resulting in a deficit of at least P705,339,537.