The Office of the Ombudsman has ordered Muntinlupa City officials led by Mayor Aldrin San Pedro and Vice Mayor Artemio Simundac to answer two graft complaints and an administrative case filed against them concerning alleged anomalies in multi-million infrastructure and supply contracts.
In orders released last June 8, Director Nellie P. Boguen-Golez of the Ombudsman’s Preliminary Investigation and Adjudication Board-D gave the respondents 10 days to address the accusations leveled against them by complainant Abel Sumabat, former head of the city’s Bids and Awards Committee secretariat.
Named respondents in a graft complaint and administrative charge for grave misconduct and dishonesty were San Pedro, city budget officer Avelino Orellana, OIC-accountant Edwin T. Suitado, former city treasurer Nelia A. Barlis, OIC-city treasurer Romeo Pucyutan and BAC Roberto M. Bunyi and members Elvira Tulay, Michael Racelis, Vicente Navarro, Peter Salonga, Rodolfo Oliquino, Marissa Guerrero and Sonia Laureta.
Also implicated were Technical Working Group chairman Roderick Espina, TWG member Eduardo Bautista and city councilors Allan Rey Camilon, Ma. Luisa Babaran Echavez, Margarita Patdu-Labios, Melchor Teves, Icasiano dela Rea, Francis Ian T. Bagatsing, Mamerto Sevilla, Robert Abas, Joselito Arevalo, Vergel Ulanday, Rey Bulay and Cesar Pagkalinawan.
Sumabat accused them of collusion to defraud the city government by a supposed rigged public bidding for the supply of 40,000 pieces of trolley school bags purchased in April 2008 from CLMP Trading that the complainant said was a dummy company owned by former city treasurer Barlis.
In the second graft complaint, Sumabat named Simundac, councilor Ermie Espeleta, BAC member Rodolfo Oliquino, TWG members Eduardo Bautista and Glenn Santos, TWG chairman Roderick Espina and BAC Secretariat members Elvira Tulay and Marissa Guerrero.
This concerns allegations of bogus public bidding in the P130-million contract for the upgrading and rehabilitation of a national road involving the concrete blocking and asphalt overlay of Muntinlupa-San Pedro Boundary going to Alabang-Las Pinas Boundary.
Sumabat said the infrastructure project was awarded to Socor Construction Corporation whose general manager Dennis Lua was also named among the respondents.
Respondent public officials have earlier said Sumabat was trying to save his own skin by filing all kinds of criminal complaints against them after a number of city contractors exposed his extortion activities with promises of lucrative contracts.
They said the complainant is facing numerous criminal charges before the Muntinlupa City Prosecutors’ Office.
Sumabar resigned his position as head of the BAC secretariat last February and sought protection under the government’s witness protection program. – Peter Tabingo
By: Reinir Padua
MANILA, Philippines – A week after raiding a shabu laboratory in Ayala Alabang, Muntinlupa City, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) raided two more drug laboratories in the same barangay Friday night.
Unlike in the Jan. 6 raid, wherein five Chinese were arrested in the one-hectare property on Acacia street, the two properties raided Friday were unmanned, PDEA Director General Jose Gutierrez Jr. said.
“They were no longer there,” Gutierrez said in an interview at midnight yesterday, minutes after they swooped down on the two facilities.
Last Friday’s operation was prompted by tips from residents following the raid on a one-hectare property there on Jan. 6. “There were those who called us up and even sent text messages. They were suspicious of Chinese nationals seen in those two other houses,” Gutierrez said.
The agency secured a search warrant and raided the houses at 119 Kanlaon street and at 536 Country Club Drive.
At the Kanlaon street house, agents recovered laboratory equipment, assorted chemicals and approximately three kilos of finished shabu. They seized from the house on Country Club Drive laboratory equipment, chemicals, and chemical residue. According to Gutierrez, the two facilities are medium-scale laboratories that could each produce 10 kilos of shabu per cycle, which takes two to three days.
PDEA-National Capital Region director Pedrito Magsino said in a television interview that they have the names and photos of the ones who have been renting the two houses since September last year. He said the owner of one the houses is Filipino, while the other house is owned by a Chinese.
Gutierrez said he has a “strong feeling” that the three shabu laboratories are connected, especially if the Chinese seen in the two houses were also from Hong Kong, just like the ones arrested in the Jan. 6 raid.
He said the stench from the shabu manufacturing process, though it was strong in both houses, could not be detected from the outside. “Once you open the doors, it’s only then you are greeted by the stench,” he said.
Gutierrez said they also found empty packs of Novahis-D, a brand of cold medicine, in the garbage bags taken out of the two compounds. “Those collecting the garbage must have found it unusual,” he said.
He said the medicine contains ephedrine, an important chemical used in the production of shabu. The PDEA chief said while local drug lab operators just smuggle ephedrine, those running the two shabu laboratories may have extracted the ephedrine from the tablets, which are manufactured in Pakistan.
“This is very common in Thailand and Korea… But this was the first time I saw it here,” he said.
Barangay officials in hot water
Muntinlupa Mayor Aldrin San Pedro directed barangay officials of Ayala Alabang to explain why they should not be sanctioned for the three drug laboratories operating “right under their noses.”
San Pedro’s spokesman, Omar Acosta, said these officials, led by barangay chairman Alfred Burgos, may be sanctioned for being remiss in their duties. He said San Pedro, following the Jan. 6 raid, directed barangay officials to closely coordinate with the homeowners’ association to come up with measures to prevent organized crime syndicates from operating in the area.
“The mayor finds the security protocol ineffective,” Acosta said.
Burgos said the Ayala Alabang Village Association is now reviewing the processes of tenants and agents involved in leasing properties in the village. – With Perseus Echeminada
A total of 280 couples were finally unified Friday, by Mayor Aldrin San Pedro at the Muntinlupa City Hall Quadrangle as part of the city’s annual Kasalang Panlungsod.
The event is a yearly undertaking that primarily legalizes the partnership of live-in couples through mass marriage.
The oldest couple who finally got to tie the knot were Arturo O. Tirona, 61 years old, and Leticia Escobillo, 58 years old.
Among this crowd was Jeffry Broñola, 18 years old, with his partner Aubrey Ann Avila, 19 years old, who were listed as the youngest couple to take vows. They led the event’s wine toast.
Mayor San Pedro emphasized the project’s cause that is to finally officiate the relationships of these couples who first resorted to living in together due to financial constraints.
Aside from the oldest and youngest couple citations, this year’s Kasalang Panlungsod recognized couples who celebrated their natal day alongside with their big day and also those who had the same birthday to whom special awards were also given.#
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED/CORRECTED)– The number of dengue cases in Muntinlupa City increased by 337% in the first half of 2011, a local health official said.
Muntinlupa City health officer Dr. Erlinda Patac said the city recorded a total of 258 cases of dengue from January to July.
Patac said this is 337% higher compared to the same period last year with 59 cases.
Patac added the city recorded 5 deaths as of August 5.
Health officials are monitoring the situation in barangays Potatan, Tunasan, Poblacion, Bayanan, Cupang, Buli and Alabang where most of the cases were recorded.
Patac called abs-cbnNEWS.com to correct a dzMM report that the city has declared a dengue outbreak. She said no such declaration has been made.
Muntinlupa Mayor Aldrin San Pedro, meanwhile, has directed hospitals to establish dengue fast-lane counters.
Residents manifesting dengue symptoms were also encouraged to undergo testing in their respective barangay centers.
In Malabon, meanwhile, cases of dengue went up by 90%, city health officer Dr. Rosauro Garcia said.
Garcia said the city recorded 491 cases of dengue in the city from January to August, higher than the same period last year with 259.
Two persons have already died there due to dengue.
Residents from barangays Longos, Potrero, Catmon, Tenejeros and Tonsuya were advised to take extra measures to avoid dengue. – Reports from Dennis Datu and Jon Ibañez
Meanwhile, the Muntinlupa City Health Office said that there are no more abandoned swimming pools inside Ayala Alabang Village that may breed dengue-carrying mosquitoes.
To help everyone avoid being hit by dengue, click on this link for tips on how to make your homes dengue-free.
A controversial ordinance that was approved by Barangay (village) Ayala Alabang in Muntinlupa City regarding the sale and use of contraceptives will no longer be implemented, according to Mayor Aldrin San Pedro.
“[The ordinance] is dead,” San Pedro told the Inquirer in a phone interview Thursday. “It will no longer be implemented. Well, in the first place, they really cannot implement it because it was not approved by the city council.”
San Pedro added that in a recent meeting with officials of the barangay, he advised them to stop pushing the ordinance.
“The measure has been the cause of division among residents and various groups. They may already have made some revisions but city council still could not approve it because its content remains [in conflict] with the provisions of existing national laws,” the mayor explained.
“I told them maybe it’s time they finally put [it] to rest,” San Pedro said. “Besides, the issue has [dragged on for] too long.”
In February, the barangay council passed the “Protection of the Unborn Child Ordinance of 2011,” which states that a person who wants to buy contraceptives from stores in the area should first present a prescription from a doctor.
The city council, however, remanded it to the barangay level, citing some portions that may be seen as an infringement of human rights. All local ordinances must be reviewed and approved by the city council before these can be implemented.
Responding to widespread criticism to the controversial legislation, the barangay council then submitted a revised version of the measure in which it did away with the provision that expressed outright support for natural family planning methods and imposed a ban on the promotion of artificial family planning methods in its health centers. Instead, it added a provision which called for the establishment of crisis pregnancy centers.
The Inquirer tried to reach barangay chairman Alfred Xerez-Burgos Jr. for comment but a staffer said he was in a meeting. Calls or text messages to his cell phone also went unanswered.