TUGUEGARAO CITY, Philippines– Former Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) administrator Jose Mari Ponce dismissed the graft charges filed by Governor Manuel Mamba as “baseless and politically-rooted.”
In a statement sent to The Northern Forum, Ponce said he is no longer surprised on Mamba’s move as the latter had been “very keen” on pushing his allegations since 2013 through “his media propaganda.”
Mamba filed graft charges against Ponce before the Ombudsman for the alleged anomalous P5-billion breakwater project at Port Irene.
In his complaint, Mamba asked Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales to indict Ponce for the building of “patently disadvantageous” project.
For Ponce, he said he is ready to face the graft charges only to clear his name and prove that there is nothing anomalous about the project.
“As this matter has been constantly brought up for the longest time, it would be great to finally shed light on the issue in the spirit of transparency and accountability…I, myself, am confident that there is no anomaly in the Port Irene Breakwater Project,” Ponce said.
He added that when the issue sparked, several government teams had already launched investigations, including a personal visit to questioned project.
Sen. De Lima, then the secretary of justice, asked the Department of Justice to look into this issue and, through a Department Order, asked the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the National Prosecution Service (NPS) to undertake a joint, in-depth and comprehensive investigation on the allegations of Mamba, Ponce said.
Ponce said a subpoena was also issued to CEZA, Commission on Audit (COA) and the contractor, among others, to allow a smooth investigation on the matter.
“I believe all issues about it have been carefully examined during the NBI-NPS Joint Investigation; had there been any anomaly on this Project, it would have been brought out during the procedure,” Ponce said.
“To date, no official result of the said investigation has been brought out to the public yet and I would also like to know how it came out so that I can also answer or clarify if the joint investigative team found any negative findings on the matter. I think this is the best way to put an end to this issue once and for all,” he added.
Newly-assigned CEZA chief Raul Lambino earlier said they will cooperate if ever the Ombudsman order for investigation. Northernforum.net