Sun. May 9th, 2021

The names of eight incumbent and one former congressmen linked to allegations of corruption in public works projects, were read by President Rodrigo Duterte in a televised public address.

According to one broadsheet, the allegations were based on reports submitted to the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission, forwarded to the president by Commissioner Greco Belgica.

But before vultures gather to feed on the meat that Belgica “exposed”, let us discern what really this rookie has been doing to dupe an entire country starting from the number one citizen of the land all the way to the bottom.

The president summarizes it in two words: No evidence.

As such, Duterte had to stress the inclusion of the lawmakers and engineers in the list does not automatically mean they are guilty of wrongdoing.

“I just want to assure everybody that the reading of your name is not a condemnation or an indictment that you are guilty of something,” Duterte said.

“I do not condemn you. I give you the presumption of innocence.” he added.

Fat chance, sir because in the court of public opinion, coming from your high office, this is tantamount to a death sentence on their reputation.

Mr. President, with all due respects, you were wrong in naming names without proof especially coming from a foul source such as Belgica who himself, is facing several corruption charges with the Ombudsman.

The only name mentioned by the President that may be appropriate is Congressman Angelina Ellen Tan of Quezon, who for more than the anomalous road project Belgica accuses her of, is facing charges formally filed by a citizen of Quezon with the Office of the President which has been forwarded to the PACC.

Congressman Tan of Quezon

The inclusion of Angelina Tan in the Belgica blacklist, no longer surprises her constituency.

Her husband Ronnel Tan and she are already a subject of a complaint affidavit by a councilor of the Municipality of Lopez, Province of Quezon submitted last December 2 to the Task Force Against Corruption led by the Department of Justice.

From the sworn statement of Councilor Arke Manuel Yulde, it is stated that the Congresswoman’s husband is presently the regional director of the Department of Public Works and Highways for Region1.

The case revolves around the RAKKK Prophet Medical Center that the couple owns, that has received P12 million pesos out of the P14 billion releases of the Philippine Health Insurance (Philhealth) as Interim Reimbursement Mechanism amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Yulde asserted that the receipt of the medical center of the “irregular, illegal and invalid IRM funds was made possible only by the undue influence and intervention” of the congresswoman in her capacity as chair of the Committee on Health in the lower house of Congress.

The complainant said that even if the Articles of Incorporation of the medical center names only the children of the spouses Ronnel and Angelina Tan as incorporators…”it is highly for these children to put up such a multi-million worth Level 2-category hospital since they are just growing up dependently” to the respondents.

The Tan couple apparently did not declare their business interest in the medical center, which Yulde said was in violation of Section 12 of Article VI the Constitution, “All members of the Senate and the House of Representatives shall upon assumption of office, make a full disclosure of their financial and business interests.”

It is also in violation of Section 7 of Republic Act 3019 on Statement of Assets and Liabilities.

Angelina and Ronnel Tan

Belgica’s dangerous games

Belgica has neither moral ascendancy nor credibility to point at any one without evidence, much less a formal investigation. For every finger he has pointed at any of the congressmen, three at pointing back at him.

The first finger to put Belgica’s head on the chopping block is a former director of the Bureau of Internal Revenue who blew the whistle on his bosses.

Dalanon accuses Dulay of what he alleges as anomalous compromise settlements by big corporations, that owed the government tens of billions of taxes but were quieted over only a few millions.

Dalanon, who also exposed the Dunkin’ Donut tax evasion case during the time of Commissioner Kim Henares and President Noynoy Aquino, tried to reach President Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte to report the irregular deals.

But the BIR beat Dalanon to the draw by kicking him out before he could have an audience with the President. Not content with having him dismissed from the service, Dulay filed libel cases against Dalanon.

The whistleblower was even accompanied by my friend and his lawyer Melchor Magdamo to an audience with Belgica at his office at the Palacio del Gobernador in Intramuros. Belgica busied himself with his cellphone while Magdamo argued Dalanon’s case.”

Case of Monalie Dizon

The case of Monalie Dizon follows. She is the founding chairman of Kilusang Pagbabago, a movement that campaigned vigorously for the candidacy of Digong Duterte for president.  

Last year, Dizon filed a graft complaint against Belgica before Ombudsman for supposed illegal raids, malfeasance and usurpation of authority.

“All his acts are without the authority of the Commission. Further, the subject of the entrapment are two officials of the BIR whose positions are below grade 26, thus are not within the jurisdiction of PACC as provided under Section 5 (a), hence Belgica’s act was contrary to law,” her complaint read.

She said the PACC official was armed with a gun during the raid. “Like an actor in a movie, Belgica took possession of a firearm and play-acted as if he was about to do a shooting match with the alleged criminals.”

She said Belgica lead another raid on a fixer transacting illegal business at the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board for a transport network vehicle service.

Then there is the complaint of the Duty-Free employes Alexander Sablan, Ernesto Mangalindan, Romeo Silva Jr., Eric Oracion, Rizalino Santos, Nilo Duarte, Joaquin Vibal, Francis Daco, and Carlito Ardales who want Belgica to be held liable for violations of Section 3(b), (e), (f), and (k) of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Grave Misconduct, Conduct Prejudicial to the Service, and Gross Inexcusable Negligence.

The DFP employees said they were “very frustrated and disappointed” at Belgica’s lack of seriousness over their accusation of “smuggling” against DFPC Chief Operating Officer (COO) Vicente Pelagio Angala.

Inititally, Greco listened to their concerns and introduced his father, Gregor Belgica, and his lawyer sibling, Atty. Jeremia Belgica. The Belgica clan assured the DFP employees that they have their support, and they said they were lucky because they do not have to pay for any legal fees.

However, when they filed the plunder complaint before the Ombudsman on March 16, 2017, with the help of the firm of Belgica’s brother – Belgica Aranas Alim Dela Cruz & Associates – they had to pay P1,000 per page or a total of P130,000.

Things went downhill when Belgica contacted Angala and set up a meeting with them. During the meeting, they were made to sign a “waiver”.

In the end, Belgica recommended to President Duterte filing of “generic” charges against officials of DFP without including the names of those involved.

Finally but not lastly, from an impeccable and reliable source from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as well as the DPWH, Belgica allegedly harassed and pressured officials of both departments using his position as PACC Commissioner.

According to the source, a company, Verdant, owned by a certain Ms. Nuesca represented by a law firm owned by Greco Belgica’s brother Atty. Jeremiah B. Belgica, Duterte-appointed director general of the Anti-Red Tape Authority or ARTA, approached certain DENR officials to ask for the issuance of an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) as a requirement to operate a bigtime quarry in Zambales.

While the ECC was still pending issuance, Verdant allegedly pressured public works officials to issue a quarry permit but still failed. According to the whstleblowers, Jeremiah Belgica then prodded his brother Greco Belgica to intervene by threatening DENR and DPWH officials with ranks of undersecretary, assistant secretary and director, that he will investigate them if they will not act favorably act on Verdant’s application.

In its institutional video, Belgica Aranas Alim Dela Cruz & Associates claims phenomenal growth in so short a time. Some are asking whether this is because Grepor is the presidential adviser on religious affairs, Greco is anti-graft commissioner and Jeremiah is anti-red tape chair?

Just to close this page, a certain Rene Guidote posted on Twitter, “How do you expect a commissioner of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission to do his job judiciously if he has a graft case?

With cases piling up against him, it looks like Greco Belgica could go to trial way ahead of the other congressmen he has wrongfully prejudged for graft and corruption, admittedly based on hearsay and without their due day in court.

Cong. Josephine Sato, (Occidental Mindoro) for alleged ghost projects in Mindoro. Intervened in the transfer of district engineer.

Former Cong. Teddy Baguilat, (Ifugao) for allegedly receiving kickbacks from contracts in connivance with Distr. Engr. Lorna Ricardo

Cong. Alfredo Paulo Vargas, (5th District, QC) for allegedly demands enrollment fee for each project amounting to one million on top of SOP of 10-12% before project can be awarded to contractor

Cong. Henry Oaminal, 2nd district of Misamis Occidental, for allegedly owning a construction company with several projects in the same province.

Cong. Alyssa Sheena Tan, 4th District Isabela for allegedly owning a construction company that has several construction projects in Isabela

Cong. Paul Daza, 1st Distict Northern Samar, for allegedly determining all winning bidders in his legislative district. Receives 20-35% kickback from contractor.

Cong. Eric Yap, ACT CIS. Legislative caretaker of Benguet for alleged rigging of bid through his agent and exerting influence in choosing district engineer in a district assigned to him. He also allegedly intervened in investigation of District Engineer Lorna Ricardo, by calling up Commissioner Greco Belgica and asking that the charges be dropped.

Cong. Geraldine Roman, 1st district Bataan, allegedly asking for ten percent kickback for all DPWH projects in her district. Sent an email asking if it is normal for congressmen to get 20 percent on all projects.

Duterte has identified the DPWH as one of the most corrupt government agencies, and ordered the relief of about a dozen district engineers of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) who were linked to the alleged anomalies.

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