In the wake of the controversy over the revocation of the amnesty granted to Senator Antonio Trillanes IV by former President Benigno Aquino III, now comes the issue linking Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go and his half-brother in the procurement of awards and contracts in public works.
I rely on the findings of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism linking Go to the contracts and posing questions on his other involvement in business.
The pertinent questions: What role did Bong Go have in the multi-billion public works contract awarded to his father and half-brother? Did Go exert some influence as special assistant to then-mayor and now President Duterte?
In the same breath, among the public works officials, who could be held responsible for the approval of these contracts awarded to CLTG (Go’s initials) Builders from 2008 to 2017?
In fairness to Go and Duterte, however, the contracts did not involve the Davao City government but other areas in the Davao region.
In fact, when the PCIJ sought Go’s reaction, he denied everything.
Trillanes plans to investigate Go. Go meanwhile offered to resign if allegations against him are proven true.
Here are some excerpts from the report:
“In sum, CLTG has been awarded P4.6 billion worth of projects, all from the DPWH, in the past decade. It won more than half of the total only last year.”
Another portion of the report said: “In 2017, CLTG won DPWH contracts worth a total of P399,336,326.72. In the same year, it won, through joint ventures, a total of P2,538,191,443.36 in DPWH contracts.”
How lucky can some people get? It’s like winning the lottery!
The PCIJ further said: “Two senior government officials and at least four contractors privy to the procurement activities in Davao told PCIJ in separate interviews that backroom deals are happening in order for certain companies to corner contracts even though they do not have the capability to take on projects.”
My gulay, I believe what the PCIJ reported because when I covered the DPWH at one time when I was still with The Philippines Herald, I knew that the department was rotten to the core. So many projects were left unfinished and yet completely paid for.
My former classmate Vicente Jayme was once assigned to the DPWH. He lasted only seven months. I asked him why, and he said he could not stand the corruption there.
The real scandal here, PCIJ reports, is that senior officials and some contractors trace the problem to a strange situation in the region. Mostly the same contractors are winning more and more contracts than they could finish within their capacity and within deadline.
This is why I believe there should be an investigation, not only into Bong Go’s alleged links to DPWH, but the whole anomalous practice in public works. DPWH Secretary Mark Villar has a lot of explaining to do.
In the meantime, Trillanes should ask if Go even filed his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth. He is a public official, after all. And didn’t President Duterte call Go a billionaire, one time?
The probe would be likely because there is talk he would run for the Senate next year. Go should be asked about his academic credentials, qualifications, and program of government if elected.
Is loyalty now a ticket to the Senate?
* * *
The President did not push through with addressing the nation and only spoke with chief legal adviser Salvador Panelo.
The main topic was the alleged ouster plot against him. But how can he be ousted when he remains popular?
As far as the Magdalo group of Trillanes, I doubt that the Armed Forces would join them. I have been a journalist for so long and I have observed numerous coup attempts. Before any military takeover can succeed, there must be a people power component.
While there are the problems of high prices and looming rice crisis, the people do not seem discontented and about to march on the streets.
Not yet, anyway.
From the opposition, there is no credible leader who would inspire following among the people. Not Vice President Leni Robredo, not Trillanes.
So what destabilization is the President talking about?
* * *
One effect of the revocation of Trillanes’ amnesty is that the amnesty given to all 59 others may also be null and void.
The question is whether the amnesty was really void from the start?
Only the courts can rile with finality. But what about the other recipients of the amnesty who are now in government, like MMDA’s Danilo Lim and Undersecretary Nicanor Faeldon?