By Floro L. Mercene
The chairman of the House Committee on Housing and Urban Development will recommend the filing of plunder charges against a contractor of housing projects for victims of typhoon “Yolanda” in Eastern Samar, including officials of the National Housing Authority (NHA).
A congressional inquiry revealed collusion between the contractor and the lead government agency in the Yolanda housing program.
Negros Occidental Rep. Alfred “Albee” Benitez, committee chairman said when Congress resumes session next month, they will recommend the filing of plunder charges against contractor Juanito Tayag of the J.C Tayag Builders, Inc., and several officials of the NHA, whose names he did not reveal.
“J.C Tayag was only a ‘Double A contractor,’ meaning he is entitled to engage in government projects of only up to P200 million worth,” said Benitez.
“But by breaking an P800-million project into smaller ones with each project amounting to less than P200 million each, J.C. Tayag was able to qualify to bid and corner all of them,” Benitez said.
Aggravating matters, Benitez said, was the use of substandard materials for the housing units.
The lawmaker discovered this when an engineer of the contract, Camilo Salazar, during an inspection, told to them the contractor did not meet the specified standard, particularly on the use of the steel bars.
While the specifications called for 16-millimeter reinforcing bars (rebar), rebars measuring 6.53 mm to 11.84 mm were found to have been used.
Although Tayag agreed to an executive session, Benitez revealed the contractor still denied everything.
Tayag was allegedly still hoping to collect the hundreds of millions of pesos for his unfinished projects with the NHA, thus his reluctance to compromise his “contacts” inside the agency.
Before Yolanda, the NHA used to have a budget of about P5 to P6 billion.
But in the case of Yolanda, NHA was flooded with funds of about P60 billion, to fund projects of gargantuan proportions. They were unable to control their greed and failed to hide the extent of corruption,” said the solon.