Saturday, January 26, 2013
Pagcor’s donated E-Kawayan Project in Alaminos is “non-existent” – Dean Espejo
"He who steals in part, steals in whole." This was the pronouncement of lawyer Abraham Espejo, lead counsel for the 15 incumbent and former barangay officials of Alaminos City, who filed plunder case against Mayor Hernani Braganza. In a press conference held January 22 at the Star Plaza Hotel in Dagupan City, Espejo pointed out that multi-million peso "anomalous" projects were enumerated in the complaint to include P31-million "E-Kawayan project (Bamboo industry handicraft industry) funded by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR). Said project allocation was supposedly to finance the expansion of the processing facility of the Hundred Islands, an innovative technology, generated from the Don Mariano Marcos State University in Batac, Ilocos Norte. E-Kawayan technology, according to research, is the manufacturing of bamboos into quality tables, chairs, desks, beds and other furnitures, plaques, tiles and display materials. The 31-million grant given by PAGCOR is supposedly to finance the following project components: factory establishment (P7M), equipment modernization (8M), human resource development (6.5M), bamboo nursery establishment (0.25M), bamboo plantation (3.25M) and tissue culture laboratory establishment (6M). From the said projects, the factory establishment or E-Kawayan Building, which was supposed to be completed last December 30, 2012, is only 26 percent finished as of press time. It’s original location in Brgy. Bisocol was transferred to Brgy. Tangcarang. Likewise, the other project components did not materialize and are now being included among the questionable projects enumerated in the plunder case filed against the city mayor. One barangay captain pointed out that they have nothing personal against Braganza but what they are protesting to is transparency and truth to come out. "Idinulog po namin sa Ombudsman kasi hindi kami sinasagot sa city of Alaminos," the barangay official said. Meanwhile, Atty. Espejo cleared that the group of complainants are just "standing for what is true" and that evidence (based on Commission on Audit report) seems overwhelming. Several other projects alongwith the E-Kawayan project is basically non-existent. "Magaling kasi na mayor si Braganza," one barangay council head said as he added that the local chief executive is just good in starting projects with wide media coverage and eventually leaving them unfinished as supported by actual evidence.