Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Friday, December 12, 2008


Journal.com.ph - The charges and counter-charges flowing out of that front page article on noted planner/architect Felino “Jun” Palafox’s warning that the SBMA under Administrator/CEO Armand Arreza is about to commit an environmental violation with the possible cutting of 366 “century old” trees to give way to the construction of a hotel-cum-casino complex have been so thick and fast a lot of other issues and persons have been unearthed along the way. Charges of graft and corruption, unfair and inefficient practices and old-style politics are now out into the open.

SALONGA’S RESPONSE: While Palafox’s complaint may have saved the trees as Arreza assured one and all that such is their injunction to the project proponents, his charge that an SBMA “executive” has asked for an 18-percent commission in exchange for favors on another project has drawn an immediate response from SBMA board chairman Fil Salonga.. Saying that this is the second time he has heard such complaint, he vowed to get into the bottom of this case. We certainly hope so.

He can begin by coming out with his own version on the project he said was also tainted with graft. What project was this? When did this happen? How much was involved? Who were involved, etc. etc. Did the project push through? If it did how is it now?

Then, he can ask Arreza why it took him almost a year to respond to Palafox’s complaint about the “commission-for-favor-seeking” on the “master planning project” he is talking about when the latter confronted him on this in 2007 yet. He can get the statement of Palafox’s partner, Chona Ponce, who was supposed to have supplied the information on that case. Palafox also named a certain Ed Santos who also worked on that project but who is reportedly now in Sweden after fleeing for his life.

As board chairman, Salonga owes it to himself and his board, not to say the entire SBMA community, to make a “clean breast” of things and, as he vowed, get to the bottom of the complaints being ranged against the ways of doing business at the Freeport. What we don’t want to happen is for innuendoes and suspicions to linger on, raking the innocents along the way and dragging the good name of the SBMA with it. We cannot afford to have the projects and the thousands of direct stakeholders at the zone, not to mention the entire country suffering from this pestering impression that graft and corruption moves with ease in that area. SAYANG!!!

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