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Marawi resident sues NHA, HUDCC chiefs at Ombudsman over ‘anomalous’ demolition project

A resident of Marawi City on Tuesday sued top officials of the National Housing Authority (NHA) and the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) at the Office of the Ombudsman over the alleged anomalous demolition of destroyed structures in the war-torn city.

Datu Meno Manabilang, chairman of a civic group of internally displaced Marawi residents, filed criminal and administrative charges against NHA general manager Marcelino Escalada Jr., NHA Special Bids and Awards Committee chair Victor Balba, and HUDCC and Task Force Bangon Marawi chairman Eduardo del Rosario.

Manabilang named CJI General Services Inc. executives Jimmy Francis Hinch, Barry Jim Hinch, Julius Joseph Beredo, Noel Mendoza, and Harry Cuevas as private respondents.

The case stemmed from the contract awarded by NHA in February 2019 for the demolition of damaged structures and debris management for Sections 2 to 9 of the most affected area of Marawi City.

Three bidders initially submitted proposals to undertake the project but all were eventually disqualified, until the NHA accepted the revised proposal of the joint venture of CJI with two other companies in December 2018.

Manabilang, in the complaint, said CJI immediately started the demolition upon receiving the notice of award from the NHA despite the lack of a joint venture license.

The NHA thus terminated the contract of CJI in February and awarded it to Eddmari Construction and Trading at a negotiated price of P2.16 billion, but Manabilang said Eddmari had a problematic track record in its implementation of the Typhoon Yolanda housing projects.

"The contract with Eddmari was terminated by the NHA due to serious 'violations' of their contracts' terms and conditions. Eddmari had six contracts terminated by the very same agency that is now awarding this highly complex project," Manabilang said.

Due to the bad standing of Eddmari, Manabilang claimed the firm had an internal agreement with CJI to subcontract the project. He said the NHA still favored Eddmari despite the proposal of three other qualified bidders.

He also warned that the safety of Marawi residents may be in danger since the contract involves bomb sweeping and may further prolong their stay in temporary shelters.

"An ineffective contractor risks the safety of the people around the area and the safety of those who will, in the future, resettle in the area. As a result, we are forced to stay even longer in temporary shelters, leaving our families and communities to suffer the hardship of rebuilding lives n barely humane and dangerous conditions," Manabilang said. —LDF, GMA News