MANILA - Former Presidential Management Staff chief Michael Defensor on Thursday challenged Quezon City Vice-Mayor Herbert "Bistek" Bautista to explain the alleged P2.7 billion in ghost projects authorized by the vice-mayor's office for the past nine years.
Defensor said Bautista authorized several projects that were done through negotiated contract instead of public auction. He said at least P50 million to P100 million of the vice-mayor's P300 million annual budget went to these so-called ghost projects.
Defensor is currently running against Bautista for the mayoral post of Quezon City. He is running under the Pwersa ng Masa party of former president Joseph Estrada.
"That's P300 million every year for nine years, almost P2.7 billion. All negotiated, all ghost projects. Binabalik ko kay Vice Mayor ang tanong. Yung isang address nagpakain daw sa meeting. Walang meeting, walang pakain," he said in a forum.
Bautista earlier challenged Defensor to prove his allegations that the vice-mayor's office is guilty of any irregularity.
Defensor's former allies in the administration Lakas-Kampi Christian Muslim Democrats, meanwhile, sided with the former Cabinet official and said Bautista should air his side about the ghost projects. Lakas-Kampi senatorial candidate Raul Lambino said Defensor's accusations were "surprising" and urged the Liberal Party to compel Bautista to explain.
Quezon Rep. Danny Suarez, who earlier admitted paying for lavish dinners for President Arroyo and her party last June, quipped: "At least ako sa restaurant lang ako nagpapakain."