Barangay Sto. Cristo, Mexico village chief Terence Napao said a construction firm owned by lawmaker and House Senior Deputy Speaker Aurelio Gonzales Jr. (3rd Dist.-Pamp.) has allegedly cornered infrastructure projects amounting to P611,577,718.40 in cahoots with some officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
This, as Napao, who is also president of the Association of Barangay Chairmen in Mexico, lodged graft charges against Rep. Gonzales and his family members –San Fernando City Councilor Aurelio Brenz; Aurelio III; Provincial Board Member Alyssa Michaela; and Aurelio Michaline, along with Zenaida Quiambao, company director.
The Gonzales owned the construction firm A.D. Gonzales Jr. Construction & Trading Co., Inc., which is located in the City of San Fernando, Pampanga.
Three DPWH officials were included in the graft charges and they were identified as Ignacio Evangelista, chairman of the Bids and Awards Committee; Anna Marie Tayag, BAC Secretariat; and Arthur Santos, BAC vice chairman.
Napao said majority of barangay chairmen in Mexico town supported his complaint against the Gonzales family.
Napao has also urged Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (2nd Dist.-Pampanga) to probe the anomalous awarding of projects in Congress.
Napao said the Rep. Gonzales and the DPWH officials have conspired to corner more than half-a-billion pesos of flood mitigating projects which were awarded to a construction company owned by the Gonzales family.
Napao filed the criminal cases on September 7 charging Gonzales of violating Section 3 (e and h) of Republic Act 3019 otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, and the Possession of Prohibited Interest by a Public Officer from Article 216 of the Revised Penal Code.
Gonzales is Pampanga’s 3rd District representative and was installed as the second highest ranking House official after a controversial revamp last May 16 which dethroned former President Arroyo as senior deputy House speaker.
“These projects are glaring examples of ‘conflict of interest in public service’, and obviously manipulated to favor the family-owned business of Congressman Gonzales, a known super-rich contractor in the province and a powerful trapo (traditional politician),” Napao said.
The general information sheet from the Securities and Exchange Commission named Gonzales’s children and immediate family members as either corporate shareholders, officers or directors of the ADG company.
Upon registration at the SEC in 1993, the congressman was listed as one of the company’s incorporators owning 77 percent of the shares. Up until 2015, Gonzales sat as the company’s president who held 25 percent shares.
“Any right minded citizen would easily figure out why and how a senior deputy speaker, a city councilor and a bokal (Sangguniang Panlalawigan member) owning a construction company and with DPWH officials under their beck and call were favored with hundreds of millions worth of government contracts,” Napao noted.
The infrastructure projects included the construction of drainage systems and flood mitigation structures and facilities within major river basins and principal rivers in the town of Mexico and at the San Fernando and Bacolor section of the province.
The complaint narrated that in awarding the projects, the DPWH regional office evidently favored the lawmaker’s construction company.
According to Napao, the DPWH regional office awarded the three projects and consecutively issued notices of awards from February 9 to May 25, 2023. Under Section 3 of R.A. 3019, “corrupt practices of public officers constitute (e) causing any undue injury to any party, including the Government, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence.”
The same section provided that “corrupt practices of public officers constitute (h) directly or indirectly having financing or pecuniary interest in any business, contract or transaction in connection with which he intervenes or takes part in his official capacity, or in which he is prohibited by the Constitution or by any law from having interest.”
On the other hand, Article 216 of the Revised Penal Code or the crime of Possession of Prohibited Interest by a Public Officer referred to a “public officer who directly or indirectly shall become interested in any contract or business in which it is his official duty to intervene.”
IOrbitNews tried to call the office of Rep. Gonzales but a staff said they are not yet ready to comment on the issue.