300 PAGES OF PROOF
ARMED with a more than 300-page set of documents, the accusers of Alaminos Mayor Hernani Braganza held a counter-media briefing last week to assert that their allegations are real and that a plunder case has been filed before the Ombudsman against the mayor.
The 15 incumbent and former barangay chairmen, accompanied by their lawyers Atty. Abraham Espejo and his assistant counsel, Atty. Allen Blair Boy, held a press conference on Tuesday in Dagupan City where they chided Braganza as being “in a state of denial”.
The previous week, Braganza held a press conference, also in Dagupan, where he claimed there is no plunder case against him but merely a request for investigation by the Office of the Ombudsman.
“Sa tingin ko sa sobrang lito ng respondent (Braganza) ay nakalimutan niyang basahin na sabit pala siya dito,” Espejo said, pointing to page 24, paragraph 5 of the documents submitted to the Ombudsman.
The group presented to the media a 330-page verified complaint supported by official documents gathered from the records of the city government of Alaminos and the Commission on Audit (COA), which supposedly contain the series of alleged illegal fund expenditures incurred by Braganza in conspiracy with the other respondents in the case.
Espejo said that while the plunder case is not yet with the Sandiganbayan, it will once “they accept the subpoena and a preliminary investigation is made and was proven that he cannot explain all of these allegations against him, a case would be filed against him.”
“We have strong evidence which he (Braganza) will be made to answer point-by-point before the anti-graft body… We have solid evidence to pin down the mayor and his co-respondents,” Espejo said as he listed the projects and other financial issues in question.
In the charge sheet, the complainants accused Braganza and the other respondents of conspiring to defraud the national government and the city government of Alaminos of some P4.7 billion in development and other funds.
The questioned projects enumerated in the complaint include:
- P31-million“E-Kawayan project” (bamboo handicraft industry) funded by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR);
- P8-million Olympic-size swimming pool funded by the Department of Tourism (P5-M) and P3-M from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of then Rep. Prospero Pichay;
- Wetland Development patterned after the famous Don Tham series of fishponds of Thailand that would cost some P55-M with a lot donation from a private citizen for the project site;
- “Anomalous” the renovation/upgrading of the City Plaza and Children’s Park, costing P9.3 million;
- Repair of Cayucay Road at P10.4-million;
- Gawad-Kalinga Eco Village where only 22 of the 100 housing units were reportedly constructed; and
- Use of the P75-million released by the national government to start the construction of an airport, reportedly part of the P210-million allocation of the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) for the building of a 3-kilometer airport runway.
In addition, the complaint asks Braganza et al to account for some P37.7-million in unliquidated cash advances; P13.5-million and P5.3-million in intelligence funds, which were allegedly withdrawn respectively by Alaminos Police Chief, Supt. Saltat and POSO employee Millan, and a P300-M loan for a hospital, hotel, and other buildings for the expansion of the Pangasinan State University (PSU).
Also, the DBP reportedly released P249-million to the city government which set aside P120-million as “standby-credit” but the complainants allege that aside from basic structures such as posts and beams, nothing has been built.
Espejo also pointed out that several projects undertaken by the mayor’s administration were awarded to just one contractor, RR Encabo Constructor Inc., whose chief architect is Braganza’s brother-in-law.
He said RR Encabo has failed to complete projects or behind schedule and should have already been blacklisted by the local government.
Aside from Braganza, named respondents were Alaminos City Councilors Earl James Aquino, Joselito Fontelera, Rufina Gabriel, Oscar Boling, Ranny de Leon, Constante Carasi, Filemon Racela, Jr., Moriah Biorella Venus Ranoy and Emerlinda Ravarra.
Also charged before the anti-graft body were Alaminos City Administrator Wilmer Panabang, City Treasurer Shierly dela Cruz, City Budget Officer Rowena Ruiz, City Accountant Emelyn Acosta, City Engineer Ismael Najera, Engr. Roel Anonuevo, City Police Chief, Supt. Rolie Saltat, Lyndon Millan of the Alaminos City Public Order and Safety Office (POSO) and Engr. Ramir R. Encabo, president of RR Encabo Construction, Inc., and a brother-in-law of Braganza who works for the construction firm.
The complainants are incumbent and former barangay chairmen Samuel Alcantara Sr., Ronald Bautista, Ester Bernal, Victor Ranchez, Jessie Racraquin, Trinidad Soriano, Jeoffrey Orfinada, Eusibio Fronda, Jose Regatcho, Milagros Payas, Mario Rabadon, Antonio Cortez, Carlito Ravarra, Alex Recosana, and Bernas.—with reports from Eva Visperas and Johanne R. Macob