Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 10th 2016 Contents A11
July 10, 2016 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
Terry Blanc, a resident from the Heights of
Guanapo, talks to the Sunday Guardian about the
abandoned church site that was being built for
Juliana Pena, the one-time spiritual adviser to
former prime minister Patrick Manning.
PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ
Tonnes of scaffolding material, PVC
pipes, plyboard, sand, gravel and
cement were among the items removed
from the church compound.
The fence surrounding the church
was also taken.
All that remains now are the mossy
concrete structure, including pillars
that were already constructed before
work was stopped, and a cargo con-
The area is overgrown with bush.
"If they could have gone with the con-
crete they would have gone with that
too. Youth nowadays will do anything
to make money. It was something for
them and they took pleasure in
destroying it," Blanc said.
Another resident who requested
anonymity described the abandoned
church as a "white elephant."
Two Christmases ago, the aban-
doned structure was used as a site to
distribute toys to children in the com-
These days, however, the site has
attracted illegal activity instead.
"There was a stolen car there the
other day. People are smoking drugs
and in the evening time it is like a sex
den. It has come now just like a hide-
away," the resident said.
"If they want to build anything there
they should build a police post," the
Another resident, Stacy Blanc, also
called for work to be done on the struc-
"I find they should come back and
do something at the site. They should
fix it up, build like a community centre
or something. The youth need some-
thing in the area," she said.
Stacy lamented Manning s passing.
"It was real sad to hear that he died.
He was a good man, I don t care what
people said, he did plenty and people
just didn t understand and didn t give
him a chance. They said all kind of
things and in the end, they found noth-
ing," she said. At the corner of the road
entering the Heights of Guanapo there
was a group of young men waiting to
scavenge the garbage trucks entering
the area. There is a landfill in the area.
"The youths need something pos-
itive. Right now all they are focused
on is scavenging the garbage trucks.
If the church was built it would have
breathed new life into the area. We
needed it," she said.
The residents wondered if the church
were allowed to be completed whether
Manning, whose final rites were
observed yesteray, would have been
laid to rest there.
On May 15, 2010, then opposition
leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar
wrote to Director of Public
Prosecutions Roger Gaspard
about Manning's involvement in
the construction of the church.
revolved around primarily four
i) whether Manning corruptly or
unlawfully interfered in the
granting of state lands and other
related approvals to the church
or for its construction;
(ii) whether state funds were
used for/or in the construction of
(iii) whether Calder Hart (then
chairman and executive director
of the Urban Development
Corporation of T&T) corruptly
procured the Shanghai
Construction Group and others
to design and construct the
(iv) whether the building
constructed at the Heights of
Guanapo was initially designed
as the Outdoor Stage Project of
the Prime Minister's house as
part of the Prime Minister's
residence and relatedly, whether
the cost of the church was
factored into the cost of the
Prime Minister's residence.
Eventually, almost three years
later, on March 2013, Gaspard
issued a statement clearing
Manning and Pena of any
"criminal misconduct" in the
church's construction. Neither
Manning nor Pena were
interviewed by police during their
investigations "since the police
appear not to have any evidence
which would afford reasonable
grounds for suspecting that they
may have committed any
offence arising out of this
matter," Gaspard said.
The police investigations show
that Manning had an interest in
the construction of the church on
state lands and had even visited
the site and made suggestions
for the design of the building.
Manning also chaired Cabinet
meetings which approved the
granting of state lands for the
In relation to the role played by
Hart, the evidence stated that it
was he who introduced Pena to
the architect who agreed to
design the church as a charitable
life into area'
...youth scavenging garbage trucks,
they need something positive
From Page A10
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