Ombudsman absolves Drilon, others in Iloilo Convention Center case

Posted on May 21, 2015

Senate President Franklin M. Drilon on Wednesday said he is “grateful” that the Ombudsman junked the malversation and plunder cases filed against him by his former consultant Manuel Mejorada, Jr. in connection to the alleged anomalies in the construction of Iloilo Convention Center (ICC).

“We are grateful that the Ombudsman acted promptly on the case, for it was not only my reputation -- which I have worked so hard for for the past 30 years -- that was being maligned, but also that of the good secretaries of Public Works and Tourism, whose integrity and credibility have never been put into question until the baseless case against the ICC was maliciously filed,” said Mr. Drilon said in a statement.

In the 27-page decision, the Office of the Ombudsman said that no basis was found for the filing of cases against Mr. Drilon, Public Works Secretary Rogelio L. Singson, and Tourism Secretary Ramon R. Jimenez Jr. in the construction project.

“There is also no specific evidence that respondents appropriated, misappropriated, consented, or through abandonment or negligence, permitted another to take the subject funds,” the decision said.

“Contrary to complainant’s allegation of rigged bidding, competitive bidding was still observed even during the negotiated procurement stage,” it added.

The Ombudsman also downplayed the evidences shown by Mr. Mejorada, which he admitted that he sourced from online websites like Wikipedia.

“Complainant’s reliance to online sources cannot be given credence in establishing the culpability of respondents. Given the seriousness of the allegation, complainant should come forward not with unreliable sources but with concrete evidence,” the Ombudsman stressed.

Mr. Mejorada meanwhile issued a statement saying that the decision was a “minor setback” and he will file a motion for reconsideration.

“This is a minor setback as far as I am concerned. I am determined to raise the issues all the way to the Supreme Court to obtain a clear-cut ruling on the issues involved,” Mr. Mejorada said in a statement. -- Jauhn Etienne Villaruel