Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Palafox seeks probe of Subic bidding

THE Korean developer that planned to put up Ocean 9 hotel-casino and a golf course agreed to alter its development plan to incorporate the trees into the structures it would put up in Subic, as environment issues were raised that prompted Congress to conduct an investigation on the matter.

At the continuation of the hearing being conducted by the House Committee on Bases Conversion, it was found out that the 366 centuries old endangered trees, the bone of contention, were not actually cut as earlier reported.

Eric Park, manager of Gran Utopia Corp., categorically said the Korean company is amenable to the proposal of Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (Kampi) Rep. Elpidio Barzaga of Cavite to incorporate the 366 endangered trees in its development plan rather than cutting them.

“Yes, your honor, we could alter the development plan as long as we are allowed to pursue this project,” Park told the panel.

In the same hearing, Felino Palafox Jr., the architect who exposed that the hotel developer was planning to cut the trees to pave way for its hotel and golf course with the consent of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), disproved the accusation of Party-list Rep. Carissa Coscolluela of Buhay that the motive behind his exposé is to try to cash in on the real- estate project.

Coscolluela tried to pin down Palafox, accusing the architect of grand profiteering for trying to lure Gran Utopia to relocate its project to Moonbay Marina, of which Palafox is a stockholder.

According to Coscolluela, Subic Coastal Development Corp. (SCDC), operator of Moonbay Marina, stands to earn no less than $40 million should Gran Utopia relocate to its site with 10 percent, or $4 million, going to the SBMA.

Palafox, however, told the panel his shares in Moonbay were payment for his professional fee for the project, as attested in a letter written by SCDC president Marianito Fernandez.

“The shares attributed to me were payment for my professional fee, which I have almost forgotten. And even if I am a shareholder in Moonbay, I am not part of the company’s operation, so I am not aware whether SCDC asked Gran Utopia to relocate its project to Moonbay,” Palafox said.

Palafox, who exposed irregularities and extortion in SBMA bidding, last year backed out of the $120-million Gran Utopia—in effect losing $1 million (P48 million) in professional fees—after learning that the project would involve clearing 366 endangered trees in Subic’s Central Business District.

Palafox also asked the ethics committees of the Senate and the House to investigate the alleged graft involving a senator and a congresswoman to clear their names and to stop alleged bidding irregularities at the SBMA.

Palafox said he is seeking the investigation in reaction to increasing pressure for him to prove his allegations.

“I have already given you the names of people whom my sources said are backers of SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza, who is strongly supporting the construction of the controversial casino and hotel project of Gran Utopia. It is up to both houses of Congress and antigraft bodies concerned to look into the allegations,” he said.

Palafox earlier named Sen. Richard Gordon, Rep. Carissa Coscolluela and her father SBMA board member Ricardo Coscolluela, Chairman Ephraim Genuino of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. and former Lakas Rep. Prospero Pichay of Surigao del Sur as among those having knowledge of alleged irregularities in the SBMA.

The architect, who is ranked 94th among the world’s top 200 architects and who has projects in 32 countries, also earlier complained to Arreza that an SBMA official allegedly tried to extort 18 percent from his firm in order to approve the bid of the Palafox Associates in October 2007.

“I know my revelations against top government officials allegedly involved in irregularities will put me in hot water. Instead of earning praises, I’ve been getting brickbats and death threats from those challenging me to prove my allegations,’’ he said.

“I really hope it is in my power to substantiate my claim, but I don’t have the capability to investigate graft and only key government agencies have the mandate and resources to do so. I hope that in fairness to the people I named, in fairness to me and the public, the Ombudsman, the Presidential Antigraft Commission, Commission on Audit, the National Bureau of Investigation and even the ethics committees of Congress will closely look into this matter,’’ he said.

According to him, he was not accusing directly any of those named of wrong-doing but that he was only stating what others related to him. Business Mirror

Labels: , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home


This is a joint private blog of volunteers from Subic Bay. It is being maintained primarily to collate articles that may be of importance to decision making related to the future of Subic Bay and as a source of reference material to construct the history of Subic Bay.

The articles herein posted remains the sole property of original authors and publications which has full credits to the articles.

Disclaimer: Readers should conduct their own research and due diligence before using any article herein posted for whatever intended purpose it may be. This private web log will not be liable for any loss or damage caused by a reader's reliance on information obtained from volunteers of this private blog.

www.subicbay.ph, http://olongapo-subic.com, http://sangunian.com, http://olongapo-ph.com, http://oictv.com, http://brgy-ph.com, http://subicbay-news.com, http://batanggapo.com 16 January 2012