PALAWAN Governor Jose Ch. Alvarez, issued a statement yesterday in reaction to an article that appeared in the December 2 issue of People’s Journal, headlined: “PALAWAN GOV, OTHERS SUED FOR GRAFT.”
In the article, People’s Journal reported that Governor Alvarez and certain officers of his private water supply company, together with certain officials of the Cagayan de Oro City Water District (COWD), are facing criminal and administrative charges before the Office of the Ombudsman for graft and other irregularities on a complaint initiated by a certain Michelle D. Fox, a resident of San Vicente, Palawan.
The Palawan governor lamented what he calls “black propaganda” on a matter that has absolutely no connection with his incumbency as Provincial Governor of Palawan.
He also questions the dubious motive of the complainant, who contested the mayoralty of the town of San Vicente, Palawan, but lost miserably by an overwhelming margin to his daughter, incumbent San Vicente town Mayor Pie Alvarez. He also disclosed that the complainant is currently facing serious criminal charges for illegal logging before the Regional Trial Court, Branch 51, of Puerto Princesa City.
Governor Alvarez pointed out that the COA audit report cited in the article as basis of the alleged complaint (COA-Fraud Audit and Investigation Office Report No. 2013-02) is still being contested and is already the subject of an on-going preliminary investigation by the Office of the Ombudsman for Mindanao.
The complaint refers to a bulk water supply project in Cagayan de Oro City that was awarded by the COWD on December 9, 2004 to a private consortium, whose Board of Directors was then chaired by Alvarez, who was then a private citizen. He was elected Palawan governor for the first time only in 2013.
According to Governor Alvarez, the Cagayan de Oro City bulk water supply project was the first ever successful bulk water supply project in the Philippines. The private company whose board he then chaired won the project fair and square through an open, transparent, and competitive public bidding. The project was completed in 2007 and it immediately commenced commercial operations in the same year. It was only on June 10, 2013 that the cited COA audit report was released.
The Palawan governor underscored, however, that, other than mere suppositions and general conclusions, not a single act was cited in the COA audit report showing that he, or any of his business associates, participated, in any manner, in the alleged violation of the Anti-Graft and Corruption Practices Act (RA 3019) or the Government Procurement Law (RA 9184).