Politically motivated and baseless accusations – Magalong


Baguio City Councilor Mylen Yaranon with Ryan Dale Mangusan, former civil servant filed cases against Baguio
Mayor Benjamin Magalong at the Office of the Ombudsman, citing irregularities on infrastructure projects at the
Athletic Bowl and Wright Park. The cases cite violations of RA 3019 (anti-graft and corrupt practices act) Grave
misconduct, gross negligence, gross incompetence and conduct prejudicial to the best interests of public service with
violations of the RA 9184 and it Implementing Rules and Regulations.

In press briefing last July 3, 2024 , Yaranon said “The complaints done in good faith and not for political purposes
but to uphold the essence of accountability and good governance in public service and sanctity government policy
that public office is a public trust.” Aside from Magalong, two of his men also faces the accusations namely City
Administrator Bonifacio Dela Pena in his capacity as chairman of the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) and Architect Johnny Degay as member of the BAC and head of the implementing department and Samuel Salvador.

Mangusan in his complaints said “We have admired early on, the brilliant platform on good governance that promised a better and more improvements in running the affairs of the City Government. The questionable management of these big haul projects have greatly maligned the good intentions of the city, its systems and procedures including the quality of leadership. Wright Park Projects In the complaint, the Basic Infrastructure Program (BIP) and the Sustainable Infrastructure Project Alleviating Gaps (SIPAG) construction of a multipurpose
building at Barangay Lualhati (Wright Park) is being questioned.

The project amounts to P49,500,000 and is from the 2022 Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Regular Infrastructure Program under BIP. The Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was notarized December 23, 2022 and start date was on February 10, 2023 with an original expiry date on September 7, 2023 but then revised to October 23, 2023. While the SIPAG construction of a multi- Purpose building located at Wright Park, Baguio City in the amount of P29, 400, 000 for 2022 DPWH Regular Infrastructure Program with MOA dated December 23, 2022 with start date set, February 10, 2023 and original expiry date at September 7, 2023 but moved to October 24 of the same year.

Yaranon relayed the status of both projects citing a letter from District Engineer Rene Zarate on December 21, 2023 such as The BIP Project “Project is slow pacing and can no longer complete on December 31, 2023 due to lack of
material time. It was recommended for termination of the MOA through the DPWH regional office in November 7, 2023, with a project status of 5% accomplished and 95% slippage. The SIPAG project contract was terminated by default by the LGU on September 25, 2023 due to the contractors’ fault while the project is ongoing, it had incurred
slippage of 15%or more.

Yaranon said “At the time ofthe bidding and notice of award Khatib Construction was not qualified under pertinent revised IRR of RA 9184, known as the Government Procurement Reform Act. Respondents while in the performance of their official functions as the incumbent mayor and head of the procuring entity, chairman of the Bids and Awards
committee, member of the BAC and head of the implementing department of the projects of the local government collaborated to award Khatib Construction the BIP and SIPAG projects.

She continued “The respondents awarded to Khatib Construction the BIP and SIPAG at the time of submission of bid, post qualification, issuance of BAC resolution, notice of award and notice to proceed, said Khatib Construction had a non-responsive bid, hence automatically disqualified.” Athletic Bowl, Burnham Park Projects The Youth Convergence Center (YCC) and Indoor Sports Complex at the Athletic Bowl, Burnham Park is alleged to be in
violation of the terms and conditions of the MOA resulting to unauthorized clustering of nationally funded projects.

‘’Until the present date, the project remains unfinished and abandoned while exposed rebars are being consumed by rust. The abandonment of the project has deprived the city and its tax payers the right to use the facility on time,” Yaranon said. The lady councilor related in her complaint that it was in November 2021 when Magalong, representing the city government of Baguio entered into a MOA with the DPWH for the projects: Construction of a Multipurpose Building, Athletic Bowl Oval, Burnham Park, Baguio City, amounting to P50,000,000 from the DPWH Infrastructure Program.

Yaranon said “The city government, through Mayor Benjamin Magalong lobbied for the DPWH to download the said
fund to the city government for implementation. He represented that they have the capacity, expertise and could supervise the implementation of the project better than the DPWH. Laterally, the city government of Baguio included the Appropriation Ordinance No. 55 for 2021, the amount of P138. 11 million for the project. 1. Both projects were clustered for bidding with a total budget of P390, 386, 870.80 2. The two projects with different fund sources are now one single project (Project A: basement and 1st floor and Project B: 2nd, 3rd and 4th floor.

The Athletic Bowl project was awarded to M.E Sicat Construction on December 16, 2021 with a 620 calendar days completion. On June 17, 2022, the city government received from the DPWH initial P25 million as cash advance for the implementation of the projects. On September 22, 2022, the city government disbursed P25, 180, 500 to M.E. Sicat. On July 24, 2023 the Commission on Audit Technical Audit for CAR reported the project incurred a negative slippage of 21.12 % but despite the same, no calibrated action was taken by the respondents.

Previously, Yaranon filed a graft complaint against Magalong for the alleged anomalous purchase of a 6.5 hectare property for nearly P100 million early this year In Tuba, Benguet. And another case for violating Section 3 of the Republic Act 3019 or the Graft and Corruption and Malversation of Public Fund and Administrative Offenses over the implementation of the construction, improvement and rehabilitation of a Multi Purpose Building in Irisan Barangay Complex worth P50 million.

“Politically Motivated and Baseless Accusations” Magalong in his Facebook account said that “It is clear that Ms. Yaranon intends to resort to trial by publicity, using media attention to sway public opinion. These cases can only be described as politically motivated, driven more by sensationalism than genuine legal concerns, mirroring a previous cyber-libel case she filed against me which was ultimately dismissed”. The mayor continued saying “Moreover, I cannot ignore the orchestrated and calculated timing of these allegations, now that we are nearing the midterm elections.

It is striking that Ms. Yaranon chose to hold a press conference even before I received a copy of the complaints, casting doubt on the sincerity of her motives”. “Since I have not yet received a copy of her complaints, I am hindered from addressing these baseless accusations effectively. However, rest assured that I will appropriately respond to her
unfounded allegations. Despite the noise she is trying to generate around this matter, my commitment to good governance, transparency, and integrity remains unwavering”, Magalong explained.

Ma. Elena Catajan with Reports Zaldy Comanda/ABN

Amianan Balita Ngayon