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Second graft case filed vs Magalong

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines — Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong is facing another graft case before the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the allegedly anomalous improvement and rehabilitation of a P50-million multipurpose building in Barangay Irisan.

The complaint was filed by Councilor Mylen Yaranon, who alleged that Magalong violated Republic Act 3019 or the AntiGraft and Corrupt Practices Act.

Yaranon said the project was implemented through a memorandum of agreement (MOA) signed between the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)-Cordillera and the city government of Baguio, which awarded the conract to Khatib Construction on Dec. 18, 2021.

She said the project should have been completed within 350 days or by Dec. 8, 2022.

Yaranon said a project engineer of the DPWH questioned the discrepancies in the elevation, footing and sizes of the columns of the building during a meeting with the Baguio City Building and Architects Office (CBAO) in March 2020.

The Baguio City District Engineering Office (BCDEO) of the DPWH said that any change in the project should be made in accordance with the MOA, including submission of a variation order.

The BCDEO said any allowed action on a variance is limited to 10 percent of the contract amount. If the amount is higher, it must first be referred to the DPWH central office.

The DPWH informed the CBAO in August of the same year about its observation on the materials used in the construction.

It said it did not receive or approve any variation order and technical justification or as-stake plan. It issued a warning to the CBAO for not submitting the required documents.

Despite the warning, the city government released P43 million as payment to Khatib Construction, Yaranon said in the complaint.

On Dec. 8, 2022, the supposed day of the completion of the project, the DPWH said it found out that only 60 percent of the building was finished.

Noting a 40-percent slippage, the DPWH terminated the project, but the city government continued it.

Of the P43 million paid to the contractor, P32 million was sourced from the DPWH, while the rest came from the trust fund of the city government.

Yaranon said there was no approved