Whistle-blower on Muntinlupa road project presses on
MANILA, Philippines–A former official of the Muntinlupa City government, who had blown the whistle on at least seven alleged anomalies in the previous administration, is not about to give up despite a recent setback at the Office of the Ombudsman.
Abel Sumabat, former head of the city’s bids and awards committee secretariat, was cited for “forum shopping” in a resolution issued by the antigraft body, which dismissed his latest complaint against former Mayor Aldrin San Pedro and 29 others, including some councilors and members of the private sector.
In October last year, Sumabat accused the local officials and Socor Construction Corp. of graft, malversation of funds and direct bribery in connection with a P21-million road project in 2007.
‘Rigged public bidding’
The contract involved the laying of fresh asphalt on Susana Heights Road in Barangay (village) Tunasan, a project which Sumabat claimed was a result of “rigged public bidding” and had caused the city government to lose P6.6 million in “kickbacks.” He said the project cost was bloated so that money would line some pockets.
But in a Feb. 24 resolution which Sumabat received only on June 11, graft investigation and prosecution officer Rachel Cariaga-Favila found credence in the respondents’ argument that the subject of Sumabat’s complaint was already included in an earlier complaint dismissed by the Ombudsman in 2010 and currently pending in the Court of Appeals.
Favila was referring to a complaint filed in 2007 by former city government employee Ariel Dolleton, which also claimed irregularities in a P129-million contract between San Pedro’s administration and Socor for an asphalt overlay project near the border of Alabang, Muntinlupa and San Pedro, Laguna province.
In a motion for reconsideration Sumabat filed in the Ombudsman on June 16, he stressed that his present complaint on the Susana Heights project was “not included in Dolleton’s complaint. It was not even mentioned therein.”
“It is frustrating and mind-boggling how Attorney Favila could treat them as one and the same,” he said. “The P21-million project awarded to Socor and the P129-million project, also awarded to Socor, were subjected to two separate bidding procedures. The irregularities on both proceedings can be the subject of two complaints.”
In a phone interview, Sumabat said that from 2012 to 2014 alone, he filed seven graft complaints against San Pedro and other city officials for various irregularities.
Because of these exposés, Sumabat remains under the justice department’s Witness Protection Program.