MANILA – The Manila city government has filed a P4.5-billion plunder case against former Mayor and Environment Secretary Lito Atienza in connection with the alleged overpricing in the dredging of the Pasig River.
Atienza and his co-respondents immediately denied the allegation even as they welcomed the filing of the charges so the truth will come out.
Also named respondents in a 21-page complaint filed with the Office of the Ombudsman by Manila assistant city administrator Amado Tetangco were architect Deogracias Tablan and engineer Alan Gatpolintan, executive director and assistant executive director, respectively, of the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC).
Atienza, Tablan and Gatpolintan were charged for allegedly conspiring to award to the Belgian company Baggerwerken Decloedt (BDT) a hugely overpriced contract for the dredging of the Pasig River in October 2008.
Atienza, then DENR secretary and PRRC board chairman, and the other respondents were accused of violating the anti-graft law for entering into a contract grossly disadvantageous to the government and which was overpriced and done without public bidding.
Atienza stressed that there was no anomaly in the Pasig River dredging project.
“I welcome the filing of this complaint because the truth will later on be revealed,” Atienza said.
According to him, the plunder complaint was a “political move by a desperate [incumbent] mayor [Lim].”
Atienza recently scored a victory against Lim when the Commission on Elections allowed manual recount of votes from the 2010 mayoralty race in the city that the former Environment secretary was contesting.
He had cried fraud in the May 10 voting, accusing the Lim camp of pulling it off to his detriment.
“We definitely deny the charges hurled against us,” said the former mayor, also a former Department of Environment and Natural Resources secretary.
Atienza added that the complainant, before accusing him of plunder, must take note that “garbage in the [Pasig] River is already flowing.”
“There is already a clearing in the river which allows the garbage to flow. The pieces of garbage are already moving which means the river is already deep, and the project made it possible,” he pointed out.