Lacson Seeks Probe of Bloated Cebu ASEAN Summit Preparations

Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson urged the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Thursday to investigate alleged overpricing in the construction of the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) and other preparations for the 12th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit last January. 

Lacson stressed the need to strengthen laws on procurement (Republic Act 9184) and the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act 3019) to prevent similar irregularities from occurring in the future.

“Based on information I received, the construction of the CICC alone was overpriced by at least P50 million. This does not include alleged irregularities in the overpricing of decorative lampposts,” he said.

He said incidents of graft such as the one surrounding the Asean summit threaten to defeat the government’s drive to encourage foreign and international groups to hold their conventions in the Philippines.

Lacson’s bid for an investigation stemmed from a request from businessman Crisologo Saavedra, who said some P3.5 billion in taxpayers’ money was squandered for government projects leading to the Asean summit last January.

He said these included P500 million in overpriced decorative lampposts and P83 million in non-working closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras.

Saavedra also accused Cebu officials led by Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia of involvement in negotiated contracts and selective bidding processes in preparing the venue for the summit.

But Gov. Garcia said that while the provincial government spent P581.273 million for the CICC, this was way below the P637.4 million allocated for the project.

During one of his visits to Cebu, Lacson saw for himself the overpriced lampposts. He noted the workmanship and quality of many of the lampposts fell short of the price.