Mark Lapid, ex-DOT execs face graft rap over Boracay water, sewerage system

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 18 2018 11:53 AM

MANILA - Former Philippine Tourism Authority general manager Mark Lapid, as well as former Department of Tourism secretaries Wanda Teo and Mon Jimenez face a graft complaint filed by two Boracay residents at the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with a water and sewerage system project on the island.

According to the complaint filed on May 8, 2018 by Rod Padilla and Roberto Gelito, both residents of Boracay Island, Malay, Aklan, Lapid entered into a joint venture agreement with the Manila Water Company Incorporated (MWCI) for the upgrade, operation and maintenance of the Boracay Waterworks and Sewerage System in 2009.

Aside from the three, also included in the complaint are PTA board members which include former Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson, former Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje, Carlos Honorio Estepa, Vivian Otaza, and Lucas Nunag.

After entering into the joint venture agreement, the PTA then executed a concession agreement with Boracay Island Water Company (BIWC) for water and sewerage services for the entire island. 

“However, PTA, then represented by herein respondents Lapid and PTA board members and officers, demonstrated clear bias and gave undue advantage to MWCI from the processing of the unsolicited proposal, during the negotiations of the terms and conditions of the JV Agreement and Concession Agreement, up to the execution of the said agreements,” the complainants said. 

The complainants said the notice of award to MWCI was approved on March 30, 2009, after the approval of successful negotiations on March 5, 2009.

But the complainants said the JVA guidelines mandate the publication of an invitation for comparative proposals within 7 days and another 30 days, or until April 11, 2009, for the private sector participants to submit their proposals.

The agreements are also allegedly disadvantageous to the government as the PTA supposedly surrendered its water rights and facilities, built under a loan program from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and was further indebted to BIWC in the amount of P60 million.

The complainants also included Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority board members under the Duterte administration which includes Teo, Interior and Local Government Officer-in-Charge Eduardo Año, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar, Tourism Promotions Board Chief Operating Officer Cesar Montano, Epimaco Densing III, Marco Bautista, Pocholo Paragas, Karen Jimeno, Anthony Edsel Conrad Tupaz, Maximilian Anthony Fernandez, Datu Abul Khayr Alonto, Elizaldy Co, Roberto Teo, Roy Martin, Maria Vida Stoifl, Catherine Turvill.

The PTA was abolished under the Tourism Act of 2009 and reorganized as TIEZA.

“Until now, respondents including the present TIEAZA board members, in connivance with one another, have been implementing this anomalous sweetheart deal with MWCI despite the serious environmental issues that Boracay island is facing right now. Respondents have made possible the fraudulent joint venture, and they continue to operate their illegal business, as usual, while the people of Boracay are the ones suffering,” the complainants said. 

Aside from the public officials, the complaints included MWCI director for regulation Virgilio Rivera, Jr. and BWIC incorporators Luis Juan Oreta, Frank Beaumont and Jose Rene Almendras.