By HERBIE GOMEZ
Editor in chief
with NITZ ARANCON
ARCHITECT Rey Galua has been awarded with contracts by schools with ties to the Department of Science and Technology even at a time when he was serving in the faculty of the state-owned University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines, formerly the Mindanao University of Science of Technology, documents obtained by the Gold Star Daily show.
Galua found himself the focus of public attention last week following a police raid in his home in uptown Cagayan de Oro that resulted in the seizure of guns and grenades, and his arrest. Most of the seized weapons were planted, alleged Galua’s lawyer Arturo Ubaub.
Following his arrest, Supt. Melgar Devaras, deputy regional director of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, referred to Galua as a “person of interest” in the investigation into the Dec. 2, 2017 killing of USTP president Ricardo Rotoras.
On Friday, Chief Insp. Mardy Hortillosa, spokesman of the Cagayan de Oro City Police Office, said a special investigation task group working on the Rotoras case considered the architect a “person of interest”.
Police don’t see “persons of interest” as suspects.
What made investigators interested on the architect was his working history in the USTP administration and faculty, and his participation in the unfinished construction of the over P200-million Students Center and Education Complex Building in the campus. USTP spokesperson-designate Annloreine Sitoy said Galua designed the building at a time when the architect was still working in the state-owned university.
Galua served as chairman of USTP’s Department of Architecture until December 2016 when he left the university, ending his 15-year service in the public institution. USTP officials have kept mum on the reason why Galua left the state-owned university.
For unclear reasons, the construction of the twin four-story building was stopped by USTP in January 2017, 11 months before the brutal killing of Dr. Rotoras outside his house in uptown Cagayan de Oro. At the same time, the university also terminated the contract it had with the builder, the San Juan-based firm Wing An Construction and Development Corp..
Lawyer and former Cagayan de Oro vice mayor Antonio Soriano, now the convenor of the group Citizens for Good Governance, said a serious question on propriety needs to be answered by USTP and Galua.
Soriano said, “If he (Galua) was working in the public university and was receiving a salary from the government at that time, and then he was contracted and paid to do the design of that building, that would be a violation of the Graft and Corrupt Practices Act especially if there was no authorization from the university board.”
Copies of documents obtained by the Gold Star Daily show that Galua has worked on the design of other government school buildings outside Cagayan de Oro. His services were not for free and did not come with his work in the USTP.
In Oct. 15, 2014, for instance, his firm RD Galua Associates received a notice of award for a P1.43-million project of the Philippine Science High School System under the DOST.
The notice, signed by PSHS executive director Dr. Larry Cabatic, showed that Galua’s firm was contracted to provide consultancy services for architectural and engineering design for the PHHS campus at the Caraga State University in Ampayan, Butuan City.
Galua bagged a similar contract for his architectural design services for the construction of dormitories for boys and girls on March 21, 2016, a PSHS project for its Central Visayas campus in Argao, Cebu. The document shows he was contracted for P1.683 million for the Cebu project.
Shortly after he left USTP in December 2016, Galua continued his dealings with the PSHS. On May 19, 2017, he received a notice to proceed with a similar project for the PSHS campus in Nangka, Balo-i, Lanao del Norte. The notice was signed by PSHS Central Mindanao campus director Lorvi Pagorogon.
Soriano said, “Ang tanang empleyado sa gobyerno, obligado nga mo-render og eight hours sa ilang trabaho kada adlaw. Kon nangontrata siya, violation gihapon kana sa graft and corruption kay nagpasabot nga wala siya mag-render og 8 hours sa iyang trabaho sa government. ‘Moonlighting’ ang tawag ana,” Soriano said.
He said one possible legal defense for this is if “moonlighting” is allowed in the state-owned university’s charter.