A long-deceased contractor of two multi-million-peso abandoned projects refunded just last month the local government unit (LGU) of Loay to the surprise of several town councilors.
Under the sole proprietorship of the late Franklin Olaer, the Square Cube Construction (Square Cube for brevity) sent two unidentified men to pay to the Municipal Treasurer’s Office (MTO) P2.735 million.
The contractor’s payment was made on July 16 this year but Olaer had already died last January.
The amount represented the partial payment for a refundable of more than P6 million involving the unfinished construction of the Loay public market and rehabilitation of the municipal building.
Municipal Accountant Jonas Maisog confirmed to the Sangguniang Bayan the payment which he learned from a treasurer’s office personnel.
The payment was first unknown to many town officials.
The government already spent over P10 million for the two abandoned, unfinished essential infrastructure projects.
LGU workers commented no one could tell if the millions released by the government had all gone to the contractor’s purse.
Years back, the LGU-Loay paid Olaer more than P6 million for the contractor’s partial accomplishments of the market project, according to Maisog.
But, the accountant said, the works done by the contractor were only valued at over P4 million as assessed by the Commission on Audit (COA), leaving a refundable of over P2 million.
Maisog said the contractor was also paid by the LGU more than P4 million in mobilization pay for the municipal hall rehabilitation but project accomplishment has remained zero.
The total refundable amount of P6 million plus had not been settled even before Square Cube abandoned the projects in 2016 and until Olaer himself died in January this year.
The sudden refund payment from Square Cube hand-carried by two “mysterious” men was only part of the total payable, which the accountant said was duly audited.
However, the contractor has other obligations like the unliquidated damages for abandoning the projects.
A check with the MTO revealed that the July 16 payment was made through a manager’s check from Banco de Oro (BDO) SM City-Cebu Branch under check number 0030079.
The check contained an amount of P2.735 million pesos and paid to the Loay LGU through the treasurer’s office.
Bank Manager Lilibeth Nee of BDO SM City-Cebu confirmed that the manager’s check belongs to their branch.
In a long distance interview, the bank manager said somebody funded the manager’s check, but she could not divulge the identity as she cited the law on bank secrecy.
At the municipal treasury, no one could tell who did make the payment, although it was learned that there were two men who handed the manager’s check to one of the MTO revenue Collectors.
The unidentified men were escorted by an employee of the Office of the Mayor, according to another employee.
Some municipal councilors were disturbed and confused by the payment supposedly done by Square Cube when its sole owner has been dead since January.
Councilor Tiburcio Bullecer, Jr. asked why only now when the contractor is already dead and charges against the former and incumbent mayors have been filed.
He said it is quite unbelievable that the contractor abandoned the projects for years just to refund the government when he is dead—and after Ombudsman charges were filed against certain former and incumbent officials.
Bullecer asked: “What was wrong with the projects? Why did he abandon them? Was the family of the late Franklin Olaer really the brain behind the payment made last July 16?”
For the councilor, the payment “made” by Square Cube, which sole owner is incapable of making a decision for he is already dead, is “highly suspicious.”
He further asked, “Who really did the payment? Was it Olaer’s family or somebody else? Who transacted with the BDO in Cebu City for the issuance of the manager’s check?”
A veteran town legislator, Bullecer suspected that the payment was tactically done as a material piece of evidence relative to the criminal and administrative charges at the Ombudsman-Visayas.
The charges have been filed against former Mayor Rosemarie Lim-Imboy and incumbent Mayor Rochelle Brigette Imboy and the Square Cube.
The two mayors are facing criminal complaints about allegedly not running after Square Cube when the latter abandoned the government projects.
Bullecer believed the payment allegedly made by Square Cube might be used by the respondent past and present mayors in their defense.
Last week, the Ombudsman ordered the mother and daughter mayors to answer within 10 days the criminal charges against them on the abandoned public market project and municipal hall projects.
The order came four months after the filing of the complaints with the anti-graft body last April. (Ven rebo Arigo)