September 16, 2007

DPWH exec files libel raps vs accuser, tabloid

SAN NICOLAS, Ilocos Norte—SECOND Ilocos Norte Engineering District (INED) assistant district engineer Reynaldo Alconcel said he has filed libel charges against RCD Construction, managed by engineer Robert Duran and a tabloid newspaper after he has been accused of extorting money from local contractors in the province.

“The libel charge, which was already filed in court, is meant to stop all the rumors against me,” Alconcel told The Ilocos Times on September 5 as he challenged his accusers to come out in the open and prove their allegations, backstopped by evidences in a proper forum.

Alconcel also claimed that the complaint-letter the contractors earlier submitted to the office of then Rep. Imee R. Marcos, and which copies were also furnished the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) central office, Malacañang, and the Office of the Ombudsman, was “fabricated”, as he alleged that the contractors’ signature in the said letter, except that of Duran, were “forged”.

In the said complaint-letter, the Laoag-Ilocos Norte Association of Contractors (LINAC) alleged that Alconcel has been asking for 10 percent of the total project costs being given to them, claiming it would go to a high ranking DPWH official.

Alconcel did not categorically deny the allegation when he was asked to comment but he stressed that there is a proper forum to explain his side on the issue.

Meanwhile, Duran said he “came out in the open to prove his allegation” along with his fellow contractors against Alconcel.

“This is not merely hearsay. I am now coming out in the open to show that a case against the assistant DE [district engineer] of the Ilocos Norte second district was already filed before the Office of the Ombudsman,” Duran said.

Earlier, Duran asked not to be identified during an interview with The Ilocos Times so as not to preempt the investigation conducted by the DPWH regional office.

Duran now claims that the DPWH investigation result was favorable to him and his fellow contractors.

“We pray for the temporary suspension of Alconcel while hearing of the case is ongoing,” Duran said after the filing of graft charges against Alconcel on August 22.

Of the 14 active LINAC members, seven contractors signed the complaint-letter. Due to time constraints, Duran assured that his fellow contractors will also be coming out to explain their side in the proper time and place.

Duran also disclosed that he was allegedly receiving death threats after he came out with the DPWH scam expose.

He further assured the public that projects being awarded to contractors could never be “sub-standard” as these pass through rigid test and examination under the guidelines set by the Commission on Audit (COA) and the ones being affected when “someone” attempts to “take a part” from the cost of the project is the profit that should have been for the contractors.

Leilanie G. Adriano

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