Solons to file charges vs. contractor of Yolanda housing project

Published September 26, 2017 4:06pm

Lawmakers are poised to file charges against the contractor of a Yolanda housing project for allegedly making false statements over the supposedly snail-paced implementation of housing relocation and resettlement for typhoon victims in Eastern Visayas.

In a press conference, House Committee on Housing and Urban Development Alfredo Benitez said Juanito Tayag, the owner of J.C. Tayag Builders Inc., committed perjury when he stated under oath that his company used 10-millimeter steel bars instead of 8-mm steel bars in the construction of the houses.

Whistleblower Camilo Salazar had earlier testified that the contractor used 8-millimeter steel bars, but Tayag belied such allegations in the House panel hearing on the matter last September 18.

Benitez said an inspection team visited the area to verify Tayag's claims, but they found out that what was used in the construction were indeed 8-millimeter steel bars.

"The size of these bars will prove that 8-mm steel bars were used on those housing units," he said.

A second whistleblower, Virgilio Salazar, had also testified that a specification of 16-millimeter steel bars was required by the Department of Public Works and Highways and the National Housing Authority in building the houses.

But as found by the inspection team, Benitez said J.C. Tayag Builders used "undersized" bars of only 12 millimeters.

"So ito na nga ang sinasabi namin na ang contractor na ito ay niloko na ang mga tao sa Eastern Samar, niloko pa ang committee na ito. Hindi na namin palalagpasin ito," he said.

"I will personally file criminal charges against this contractor," he added.

Benitez said perjury charges will be filed against Tayag for making false allegations under oath.

"He (Tayag) claimed that he did not use or purchase 8-mm bars, and testimonies, pictures and official reports claim otherwise," he said.

Benitez said Tayag had also claimed that Salazar was hired as a foreman for his company.

"But when we pressed to ask him for payment slips, proof of withholding mandated deductions, hindi niya napakita ito. In fact, what was presented was billing statement coming from the whistleblower claiming for payment," he said.

Aside from perjury, the lawmakers are also looking into filing of charges for breach of contract and syndicated estafa against Tayag.

But as far as the Eastern Samar Representative is concerned, Tayag should be charged with plunder.

"If the evidence would warrant, we'll not hesitate to file plunder charges because this involves a series of transactions and the amount is more than P50 million," he said.

Benitez earlier said their investigation showed that out of the target 205,128 housing units covered by the project, only 11.4 percent or 23,414 units were occupied. Only 33 percent or 73,286 units, on the other hand, are undergoing construction.

This, even as more than P60 billion of the P75 billion allocation for the project sourced from the 2013 national budget have already been utilized.

With the evidence they have uncovered, the House panel is also planning to expand their investigation into other housing projects and other contractors. —KG, GMA News