Casiguran mayor denies Diokno links

CASIGURAN Mayor Edwin Hamor yesterday denied links or closeness with Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, saying they are not really in-laws.

Appearing in the House Committee on Rules investigation on budget insertions, Hamor said he created Aremar Construction in good faith and not to be used while he was in government.

Hamor is one of the personalities invited by the committee to shed light on the flood control projects in Casiguran, Sorsogon allegedly inserted by Diokno amounting to P14 billion.

Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. even praised him for being man enough to show up in Congress to clear his name.

During the questioning, Hamor said his municipality is not a favored place in the  allocation of funds for infrastructure projects.

“Ang tawag niya (Diokno) sa akin mayor. Pero hindi ko balae. Mas lalong hindi ko kaanu-ano si Diokno,” Hamor told the panel.

Diokno’s daughter, Charlotte, is married to Jojo Sicat, the son of Sorsogon Vice Governor Esther Hamor from a previous marriage.

Hamor told lawmakers that the infrastructure projects poured into his municipality were all meant to lower poverty incidence.

Andaya, who chairs the panel, asked Hamor if he had seen Diokno in the past.

Hamor said that he only saw the budget chief at a wedding.

The Casiguran mayor refuted allegations that Aremar Construction Corp. owned by his daughter cornered at least P551 million in government contracts in 2018 from the Department of Public Works and Highways.

Hamor debunked the claim of Andaya that Aremar Construction Corp. was favored owing to his ties to the Budget Secretary.

According to him, Aremar was established in 2014 when he was out of government and he was in the private sector.

“I divested before I assumed as mayor in 2016 in favor of my sister, Grace Hamor-Yu, and my daughter, Maria Minez Hamor,” the mayor said.

“Maria is my daughter outside of wedlock before I married Esther Hamor, who is the actual in-law of Diokno. Maria Hamor now owns majority of Aremar,” he added.

Hamor also said he decided to include Jojo Sicat as incorporator upon the request of his wife Ester.

The mayor stressed that Aremar and CT Leoncio Construction and Trading, a Triple A company, are not partners but are only involved in a joint venture for four infrastructure projects in Sorsogon.

“Joint ventures are legal and allowed by the DPWH if it has a Philippine Contractors Accreditation Board approval and special license for joint venture purposes. All these joint ventures have PCAB approval and a numbered special license. Joint ventures are valid and legal,” he said, in an earlier statement.

But contrary to Andaya’s claims that Casiguran was favored in the alleged P51 billion “insertions” in this year’s budget, the municipality was given zero allocation for infrastructure projects under the Department of Public Works and Highways.

Official documents likewise showed that among the provinces in the Bicol region, Albay had the highest allocation at P11.2 billion, debunking further Andaya’s allegation that Sorsogon was unduly favored by Diokno.

Sorsogon came in second at P10.5 billion, closely followed by Camarines Sur at P10.2 billion, Masbate at P4.5 billion, Camarines Norte at P3.3 billion, and Catanduanes at P2.5 billion.