Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Arroyo camp denies overpricing multi-billion bridge project

..Former President and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo belied allegations she orchestrated the overpriced P111-billion President’s Bridge Program. Arroyo’s spokesperson Elena Bautista-Horn explained the project spans four administrations, and the contract was subjected to comprehensive scrutiny. Horn issued the statement in reaction to Senator Sergio Osmeña III’s move asking the Senate to investigate the former president for overpricing the project by P20 billion on Monday. “In this case, he is not only accusing former President Arroyo but also the other Presidents, the incumbent President, as well as the British and French governments,” Horn said in a separate statement. “If they have questions, they can look at the documents kept by the agencies involved in the program,” Horn added. In an earlier statement, Osmeña accused the Pampanga lawmaker of “serial plunder” for overpricing the program, which is consisted of 14 bridge contracts. The senator alleged Mrs. Arroyo “misrepresented” the project as an Official Development Assistance (ODA) program to justify her administration’s decision to forego public bidding. He noted that Mrs. Arroyo issued two executive orders to override the provisions of the Government Procurement Act and other laws mandating public bidding for ODA-funded projects. Describing it as “a highly complex scheme,” Osmeña claimed the former chief executive and at least five government agencies disguised the overpricing as local expenses. ..