By Arjay L. Balinbin, Reporter
THE PHILIPPINE Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) is standing by its report on the multibillion-peso civil works contracts in Davao Region awarded to the father and half-brother of Special Assistant to the President (SAP) Christopher Lawrence “Bong” T. Go.
“We stand by our story and take exception to the statement of Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence “Bong” T. Go that our report on the multibillion-peso civil works contracts that the firms of his father and half-brother was ‘fake news’ and ‘biased reporting’,” the PCIJ said on Saturday.
Malacañang on Sunday remained mum on the issue.
“Please ask him [Mr. Go],” Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque, Jr. said in a text message to BusinessWorld when sought for comment.
In a statement, Mr. Go said: “I find myself once again a victim of fake news and biased reporting. PCIJ’s report raised malicious issues against me. These false news, guises as ‘investigative reports’, seem to be politically motivated as the reports suspiciously surfaced around the same time when some groups had clamored for my senate bid.”
In its report published last week, Sept. 6, the PCIJ said that despite the “119-percent increase” for Region XI’s infrastructure funds in 2017, this has not “bought Davao a lot of finished projects.”
The PCIJ noted that “(s)enior officials and some contractors themselves trace the problem to a strange situation in the region: Mostly the same contractors are winning more and more contracts, grabbing more projects than they could finish well within their capability, and within deadline.”
“To this lucky set of top contractors in Davao Region belong two entities owned by the father and the half-brother of Special Assistant to the President, Christopher Lawrence ‘Bong’ Tesoro Go: CLTG Builders and Alfrego Builders and Supply,” the PCIJ revealed Citing data from the Department of Public Works and Highways’ (DPWH) Bureau of Construction, the PCIJ said: “The unfinished projects… altogether amount to PhP24.5 billion. This is equivalent to 56 percent if computed against Davao Region’s PhP43.77-billion public works funds in 2017.”
Also citing DPWH data, the media group noted that the firm “that bears the initials of the presidential aide appears in Davao City’s 10 biggest contractors year on year from 2010 to 2017.”
“CLTG won a total of PhP1.85 billion worth of infrastructure projects for Davao Region from 2007 to 2017. This has yet to include the PhP2.7 billion worth of contracts won by CLTG through joint ventures (JV) with four other contractors, including Alfrego Builders, a firm owned by Bong Go’s half-brother Alfredo Go,” the PCIJ also said in its report.
Mr. Go, in his statement, explained: “My father has been in the industry long before I was born. For delicadeza, I did not allow my father to bid in the projects of the City Government of Davao in all the 15 years when PRRD was mayor.”
He argued that when his father and half-brother participated in the bidding of the DPWH projects, “either as sole contractor or as JV partner, they were just exercising their rights.”
“Being related to me does not disqualify them to bid. These projects are publicly bidded anyway. I never intervened nor influenced the DPWH on how they bid or award these projects. My office does not control the DPWH to begin with,” he added.
Mr. Go also maintained that he has never been involved in corruption. “I have protected my name over the years. If anyone can prove that I spoke with DPWH or any other agency involved in the funding of these projects, I will resign immediately!” he said.
By Arjay L. Balinbin, Reporter