Andaya seeks AMLC help in probe of firms linked to Diokno's in-laws

MANILA, Philippines – House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr said on Thursday, January 3, that he would seek the help of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to access the bank transactions of two construction firms involved in alleged anomalous multibillion infrastructure projects. 

Andaya said these bank records will be the subject of future hearings of the House committee on rules, which is investigating the alleged budget anomalies in the current 2018 and the proposed P3.757-trillion budget for 2019, both prepared under Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno. 

Andaya is seeking access to the bank records of C.T. Leoncio Construction and Trading as well as Aremar Construction, where the major stockholder and one of the incorporators are in-laws of Diokno.

“With this evidence, I am inclined to seek the help of the Anti-Money Laundering council in the House investigation. I will request for all bank transactions of C.T. Leoncio Construction and Aremar Construction,” Andaya said after he showed a copy of a Land Bank of the Philippines (Landbank) deposit slip made out for Aremar Construction.

C.T. Leoncio Construction, which allegedly cornered billions of government projects nationwide since 2017, had entered into a joint venture agreement with Aremar Construction for several infrastructure projects amounting to P550 million in 2018.

But Andaya said the House panel obtained documents showing that Aremar Construction has at least 8 dummy contractors, including C.T. Leoncio, to bag big government projects in Sorsogon.

What’s the evidence? Andaya presented a copy of a Landbank deposit slip from an unnamed contractor which won the bid for a P11.416-million public works project. This depositor for this contractor, which was shaded in Andaya’s presentation, deposited the money to Aremar Construction’s account on October 4, 2018. 

“After release of funds from DBM, the winning contractor deposited the money to the real contractor of the project: Aremar Construction. Look closely at the deposit slip: a total of P11,416,374 found its way to the bank account of Aremar on October 4, 2018,” said Andaya. 

Screenshot from Andaya's presentation during the hearing

Andaya said the LandBank deposit slip supported the testimonies of other contractors that the House panel had spoken to ahead of the hearing. 

He said the contractors claimed the bidding for infrastructure projects in the Bicol region were just “moro-moro” or staged in favor of Aremar Construction.

The Diokno connection: The major stockholder of Aremar Construction is Casiguran, Sorsogon Mayor Edwin Hamor, the husband of Sorsogon Vice Governor Ester Hamor. Ester Hamor has a son named Romeo Sicat Jr from a previous marriage. Sicat is married to Diokno’s daughter, Charlotte Justin Diokno Sicat.

The Hamors and Aremar Construction officials were not invited to the House hearing held in Naga City on Thursday.

Andaya told reporters after the hearing that the committee would not invite the Hamors to the next hearing so that the panel would not be accused of sabotaging the Hamors’ bid in the 2019 elections. 

Ester Hamor is running for Sorsogon City mayor in 2019, while her husband is seeking reelection. 

Andaya said should the Hamor couple voluntarily decide to face lawmakers, the rules committee will give them the chance to speak.

Diokno already denied using his position as DBM chief to help corner projects for his in-laws. – Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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