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CCMC scrap iron puzzle

By: Jose Santino S. Bunachita September 01,2015 - 12:47 AM

Where did city hospital’s salvage materials go?

Mariquita Salimbangon-Yeung

A year-old question about what happened to scrap iron and salvage materials left after the demolition of the Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC) will be taken up again today by the City Council.

“If somebody made money out of the controversy, then the Ombudsman should file a case,” said Councilor Noel Wenceslao, an ally of Mayor Michael Rama.

He said he would ask the Council in its regular session tomorrow to refer the matter to the Visayas Ombudsman’s Office for a fact-finding inquiry.

Wenceslao said he wanted to “make things clear” and secure the public’s “peace of mind” because the question was being revived in some newspaper columns and radio commentaries after last month’s defection of Councilor Mary Ann de los Santos, who left Team Rama to join his critics in the Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan.

De los Santos was chairperson of the CMC ad hoc committee at the time, when she still enjoyed Rama’s trust.

Manila-based contractor JLC Construction demolished the quake-damaged hospital at no cost to the city, according to City Engineer Jose Marie Poblete in records of the City Council’s executive session in Dec. 4, 2014, whose records surfaced with the controversy.

“As an industry practice, if you demolish, you can salvage what you can salvage,” he explained.

Who chose the contractor? And why wasn’t ä public bidding held?

“The equipment was lent to us for free by Mrs. Mariquita Yeung because she has an ongoing project and she very generously lent us the equipment,” City Hall lawyer Jose Daluz III was quoted as saying in minutes of a July 16 executive session.

Yeung, a businesswoman and philanthropist, is a supporter of Mayor Rama and a major donor of the Piso Mo, Hospital Ko fund-raising drive for the reconstruction of the CCMC, whose phase 1 was bidded out for P600 million this year.

Poblete explained in the executive session that the city had no expertise to completely demolish the old hospital:

“They (JLR Construction) were there, they have the expertise and equipment. They were there to help.”
He confirmed that Yeung at the time had an ongoing demolition project of the old Casino in barangay Busay.

A cost estimate of P7.6 million was submitted for CCMC after work was done by JLC Construction for labor and equipment to handle the demolition, including hauling and disposing of the debris.

The materials recovered had a value of only P1.86 million, they said, indicating the firm was set back P5.7 million.

The materials were “deformed bars, window grills, light recovery materials sTheuch as plywood, wood, roofing sheets, etc.”

The figures were submitted by general manager Dan Jimenez of JLR Construction, which specializes in “controlled and conventional demolition” and is a “buyer of scrap.”

In the same minutes, Councilor de los Santos noted that two dump trucks had dumped debris and rubble from the old hospital near Pond A at the South Road Properties.

During the proceedings, De los Santos recalled that after the October 2103 earthquake left the CCMC in disrepair, experts said it was no longer safe to use, and Mayor Rama opted for complete demolition.

She said the mayor called out for help through Public-Private Partnership to rebuild the “hospital for the poor.”

“There are friends of the mayor who are also helpful in that aspect. Presently they are undergoing construction right here in the City of Cebu, so offered that help to the mayor to demolish CCMC.”

READ: Construction of CCMC starts

She confirmed Engineer Poblete’s explanation that the city had “no capacity, equipment or manpower” to demolish the structure and that city lawyer Jerone Castillo facilitated securing a clearance from the Commission on Audit on Jan. 22.

No public bidding was held, she said at the time, because the COA’s green light was interpreted to mean the debris and demolished materials had no significant value to the government.

Poblete, a lawyer and civil engineer, gave a similar view of audit compliance.

“Since there was no mention here of the value, on our part we take it to mean they (COA) interposed no objection, so we can proceed with whatever is is that may come out with the CCMC. For them, as far as the government is concerned, maybe the proper has already served its purpose,” he said in the executive session based on the official transcript.

It was BO-PK’s Councilor Sisinio Andales who first raised the issue of CCMC’s demolition and scrap material in the council last year.

He asked for an investigation after Sun.Star columnist Elias Espinosa strongly hinted that an unnamed city official made money from the transaction. Espinosa was invited to attend the council meeting but declined, saying he was protected by law from revealing the identity of his sources.

Minutes of the executive session, chaired by Councilor Margot Osmeña, showed the legislators later agreeing to close the issue.

Councilor James Anthony Cuenco, an ally of the mayor, said the council should not pursue “harassing” the contractor who showed “benevolence” when it offered to help the city demolish the old CCMC building. The other councilors agreed. The council earlier passed a resolution asking the Ombudsman to investigate the issue.

Yesterday, Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella said this was a better route, since the council has no legal power to investigate their own peers, only the Ombudsman or the Office of the President.

“It should be independent and objective so that for that purpose, I think the better so we can stop all these fussing.

The matter should be referred to the Office of the Ombudsman for a fact-finding inquiry” Labella told reporters.

“My preference is for the council to refer it to the Ombudsman to avoid any perception of bias whether for or against anyone,” he said.

But until today, said Councilor Andales, there is no clear complainant in the CCMC demolition issue.

If the issue is revived, he said, it would just be for politicking.

READ: ‘BO-PK will take care of Mary Ann’

“I was forced to place this in the agenda it due to the column of Atty. Espinoza but no names were mentioned in his column. Bati jud kong ang tumong nila mao si Mary Ann nga gisakitan sila sa pagbalhin sa BOPK. Nganong karon pa man? Gikuyawan sila sa pagtapon ni Mary Ann sa BO-PK?” Andales said.

(It’s really bad if their target is Mary Ann de los Santos and they are hurt by her transfer to BO-PK. Are they afraid of her joining the BO-PK?)

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TAGS: CCMC, Cebu City, governance, health, politics

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