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Solons seek probe of SBMA contracts

Lawmakers yesterday called on the new leadership of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority to conduct a thorough review of big-ticket contracts entered into by the previous management following reports that several transactions have been tainted with graft.

Reps. Sherwin Tugna (CIBAC party-list) and Ron Salo (Kabayan party-list), both members of the House Committee on Good Government and on Justice, noted that President Duterte has issued marching orders to the new SBMA management for a total house cleaning of the State-run firm.

Tugna, who represents the anti-graft party-list group Citizens Battle Against Corruption, lauded the Duterte directive to new SBMA Chairman Martin Dino.

Salo said he is willing to initiate a House probe into allegations of corruption in the SBMA if the passage of a new legislation becomes necessary to insulate it and similar State agencies from graft.

In a recent meeting with Dino, Duterte instructed the new SBMA official to sue officials found to be behind many questionable deals. “Kasuhan mo mga ‘yan,” Duterte reportedly said.

Dino, a key officer of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, said Duterte told him to “go after grafters who enriched themselves for six years” at the helm of SBMA.

“There’s this one transaction under the previous administration wherein P50 million were spent for CCTVs which you could not see anywhere around SBMA. Where did the CCTVs go?” Dino admitted to reporters.

Dino, who was very instrumental in Duterte’s ascension to power, said the Chief Executive stressed that he should not waste time and promptly deal with grafters and to file charges against anyone involved.

Dino said the conversation between him and the President transpired during the groundbreaking of the Bicol Airport last Thursday.

Among the issues discussed was the confusion on the appointment of SBMA officer-in-charge Administrator Randy Escolango, whose papers were signed only by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea last October 19. Dino said Duterte was not even aware of Escolango’s designation.

“He (President) asked (special assistant to the president Christopher) Bong Go what it is all about and instructed him (Go) to iron things out,” Dino said. (Ben R. Rosario)