Gonzalezes deny influencing Ombud on Pavia housing scam

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

“DON’T look at us.”

THIS was the reaction of the Gonzalez camp to reports that the Office of the Ombudsman is set to file a plunder case against Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas for the P134-million housing project scam.

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Raul M. Gonzalez Sr. denied influencing the Ombudsman to “move” the case after Treñas broke away from their group last month to run for congressman.

“We have nothing to do about any prospective resolution of the Pavia housing case. It is easy for our enemies to attribute to us things that go against them,” Sec. Gonzalez said.

But Sec. Gonzalez said he told the anti-graft body to hide the housing scam case because he was responsible for Treñas’ election as city mayor.

“I did not want any issues to be raised against Treñas because he has just been elected mayor (in 2001). I told the Ombudsman not to prioritize the case,” he added.

Rep. Raul T. Gonzalez Jr. said they are not surprised if the Ombudsman has resolved the case as it has been languishing in the anti-graft agency for sometime now.

But Rep. Gonzalez, who is seeking re-election against Treñas, denied any hand in any decision of the Ombudsman relative to the anomalous housing project located in Pavia, Iloilo.

“We even wrote the Ombudsman regarding the status of the case because it was not moving. If the Ombudsman has approved the filing of the case, it is because the issue is long overdue and ought to be resolved,” Rep. Gonzalez said.

The housing project, which was financed by a P130-million bond flotation, began in 2001 and was supposed to be completed in 2003.

But in 2002, Rudy Gonzales, a sub-contractor of ACE Builders Enterprises (ABE), the winning contractor of the project, exposed the alleged substandard materials and engineering of the housing units after the ABE failed to pay his services.

Rep. Gonzalez Jr., then a city councilor, led the investigation on the housing project as chairman of the committee on good government.

In 2003, the committee on good government released its findings and recommended the rescission of the contract and the filing of criminal and administrative charges against ABE, Treñas and other City Hall officials.

The committee also asked the Office of the Ombudsman to dig deeper into the anomaly.

Three administrative cases relative to the project are docketed as OMB-V-C-03-0715-K, OMB-V-C-03-0716-K and OMB-V-A-03-661-K.

Rep. Gonzalez said the City Council did not approve the committee report, reason why they submitted a copy of the report to the Ombudsman for further investigation.

He said Treñas was included as one of the respondents in the case because he signed the contract with ABE without authorization from the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

“It was former Mayor Mansueto Malabor who was authorized to sign the contract. Mayor Treñas also failed to endorse the signed contract to the City Council for ratification,” Rep. Gonzalez said.

Rep. Gonzalez added that officials involved in the case should face the charges instead of blaming their group.

“They should answer the issues instead of blaming us,” he said.

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