USTP slams corruption claims against murdered president

Rod Bolivar, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 18 2018 11:07 AM

USTP students and faculty members commemorate the 40th day of university president Ricardo Rotoras' death. Rod Bolivar, ABS-CBN News

CAGAYAN DE ORO - The University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines (USTP) has denied the corruption allegations against its murdered president Dr. Ricardo Rotoras.

In an official statement issued for the very first time since the murder of Rotoras, USTP described the claims of engineer Selwyn Lao that was published by Sunstar Cagayan de Oro as "malicious" and "unfounded".

Lao is the president of Wing-Ang Construction, the project contractor of the eight-storey Student Center and Education Complex building.

Lao claimed that Rotoras, through the university's former chairman of Architecture Department Rey Galua, asked for 10 percent or P20-million as "share" from the P200-million project.

He said that since he could only give 4 percent share, Rotoras terminated the contract as project contractor.

But USTP said that it was the Board of Regents that terminated the contract with Wing-Ang Construction because of several violations.

"The Board of Regents terminated the project because Engr. Lao violated some of the provisions of the contract, particularly (a) subcontracted without authority a portion of the works to a third party, (b) made unauthorized substitution of key personnel, and (c) failed to deploy key personnel committed under the contract," USTP said.

The university also rebuked Lao's claim that the project was already 60 percent completed when it was terminated.

“Engr. Lao’s final accomplishment on the project was reported by the University’s Project Management Office (PMO) at only about 39 percent. This was verified by the University’s Project Management Advisory Committee (PMAC) and the University’s Inspectorate Team,” said USTP.

USTP further denied Lao's claim that he was made to comply with impositions not stipulated in the contract such as the full testing of the bored piles that cost him about P2-million.

“Engr. Lao was made to perform full testing of the bored piles because this is what is required under DPWH standards, rules and regulations for construction of buildings. Moreover, Engr. Lao committed to perform, for his account, tests on bored piled in accordance with government standards such as that of the DPWH,” added USTP.

The university also detailed in the statement the reason for the fallout between Rotoras and Galua.

It turned out that Galua, who served as architect of the project, was found to have partnered with Lao in another construction project in Don Carlos, Bukidnon.

This prompted the Board of Regents to dismiss Galua from government service for Gross Neglect of Duty and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service.

“In September 2017, the Board of Regents filed an administrative case against Arch. Galua before the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) for revocation of license and registration. A complaint for violation of R.A. 6713 (Code of Conduct of Government Employees), R.A. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act), and the Revised Penal Code was also filed by the Board of Regents with the Office of the Ombudsman against Engr. Lao and Arch. Gulua,” the university statement read.

This fall out between Rotoras and Galua was one of the angles being investigated by the Special Investigation Task Group Rotoras (SITG) to establish possible motive of the former’s murder.

“If we are able to establish strong evidence against Galua because of their conflict with Rotoras, then we can possibly charge Galua responsible of the crime,” said Chief Inspector Mardy Hortillosa, spokesperson of Cagayan de Oro City Police Office.

Galua is currently under hospital arrest after he was charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

Rotoras was gunned down outside his residence on December 2, 2017. A P2.5-million reward awaits anyone who can give information and identify the perpetrators behind Rotoras’ murder.