Manila – Senate President Franklin Drilon faces his second plunder case in a week, both filed by former Iloilo Rep. and TESDA Chair Augusto Syjuco.
The first case was regarding the construction of Iloilo Hall of Justice in 1992 while Drilon is serving as Department of Justice (DOJ) secretary under the Ramos administration where Syjuco accused the Iloilo senator of receiving commissions from the contract. Syjuco also criticized the building (Hall of justice) as structurally weak, being made of substandard materials and equipment.
The second case is based on a 2006 questionable purchase of a property in Jaro, Iloilo City. It was supposedly intended as a relocation project of residents along the riverbanks as part of the Iloilo Flood Control Project (IFCP) under the DPWH.
Syjuco, a bitter political rival of Drilon, alleged that the 16.2-hectare land at Lot No. 4292-B in Brgy. San Isidro was overpriced in connivance with a number of public works and local officials. The said property owned by a certain Marilyn Mirasol Inocencio, according to Syjuco, was previously valued at P17/ sq.m. or approximately P2,754,030. It was classified as an unproductive agricultural land.
However the day before the sale, the classification was suddenly changed to residential via a tax declaration issued by the city assessor’s office. Syjuco said this is a dubious attempt to increase the valuation of the property. His complaint stated that:
“These manipulations of the market value for the subject property abruptly increased artificially its selling price to P81,001,000 while the assessed value also sky-rocketed to P6,075,080.
“In a worse and surprising turn of events, the subject property that was valued at P2,754,030 only a day ago, was renegotiated for a stupendously increased amount of P63,200,000 on Jan. 25, 2006 through a Deed of Sale signed and executed a day after its market and assessed value were arbitrarily increased,”
He revealed further that Drilon immediately released P63.2 Million from his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to pay Inocencio.
Both charges have been denied and dismissed by the senate president as ‘baseless and malicious’ and an attempt to malign him. Also, in regards to the first plunder case, the embattled senator explained in his statement:
“To set the record straight, I had no involvement in the construction of the Iloilo Hall of Justice because the fund was coursed through the Department of Public Works and Highways Central Office. I was told the project was aboveboard, there was proper bidding, and there was nothing illegal and anomalous about the project which was completed in 1992,”
On the second complaint, Drilon also denied any participation in the purchase. He reiterated:
“I had nothing to do with the purchase of the land as mentioned in the graft complaint of Syjuco. It was the Iloilo City government which purchased that land. I had no participation whatsoever in the purchase of that land.”
Augusto Syjuco is seeking preventive suspension against the senate president during the course of the investigation to avoid any undue influence on the case by Drilon.