A NEW graft complaint against Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Gina Lopez of the Philippine has been filed before the Office of the Ombudsman on Thursday, March 16.
Lopez was accused of violating the Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for allegedly influencing the Philippine Department of Energy (DOE) to award the $100-million power plant service contract to a private company she favored.
According to the complaint filed by Ecoglobal Incorporated (EI) business development officer Vienna Tañada, Lopez pressed Energy Secretary Director Mario Marasigan to grant the service contract for a power plant in Zamboanga City to EI.
Tañada’s complaint showed a screenshot conversation of Lopez telling Marasigan to “to take care” of the EI’s application for the service contract.
The complaint also cited a text message of Lopez to Marasigan questioning the delay of the awarding of the contract.
Tañada added that EI Chief Executive Officer Jean-Philippe Henry supposedly issued a letter of guarantee last Sept. 29 to the French Embassy in Manila, pledging to shoulder the costs for Lopez’s “airfare, hotel accommodations, insurance coverage, and travel allowances for the entire duration of their business trip.”
“I was instructed by Mr. Henry to assist Sec. Lopez and her party in their application for Schengen visas and for the booking of their flights and hotel accommodations,” Tañada said in the complaint.
Lopez and five others went to Paris last October 2. The following day, DOE reportedly awarded the service contract to EI.
Continuing, Tañada remarked: “While this is beyond the scope of my duties as an Ecoglobal employee, I accepted the assignment since part of the trip would involve renewable energy projects that may be undertaken by Ecoglobal.”
For her part, Lopez clarified that the trip to France was not paid by the EI.
“Ecoglobal just coordinated. The trip was a work trip, it wasn’t at all a perk. The travel agency gave the tickets in the assurance that when the funds come for the Pasig River which the French government has already committed to, they would get paid,” Lopez explained.
A Rappler report said that Lopez confirmed she “did reach out to the DOE to award the project to EI, but only for the sake of the beneficiaries of the power plant in Zamboanga.”
Last January, Air Board Company and the United Filipino Commuters and Consumers (UFCC) filed a complaint against Lopez for alleged inaction over the agency’s defective air quality monitoring machines.
The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) also filed a graft complaint against Lopez earlier this month for her supposed undue process on the suspension and closure of several mining operations.