PRC commissioner suspendedBy Cynthia D. Balana
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales on Thursday ordered the preventive suspension without pay of Commissioner Alfredo Y. Po of the Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC) pending the investigation of two cases filed against him for grave misconduct.
Morales said Po has been accused of soliciting and accepting bribe and of failure to account for and remit the collections intended for the Philippine Society of Mechanical Engineers (PSME).
The suspension will be effective until the termination of the cases but not exceeding six months.
In a four-page resolution on the first case signed on Jan. 9, Morales ruled that the evidence of guilt of Po was strong for the offense of Grave Misconduct and Violation of Section 7(d) of Republic Act No. 6713.
“The concurrence of the conditions that would necessitate the preventive suspension of Respondent Po is clearly present in this case,” the resolution said.
The National Bureau of Investigation arrested respondent Po during an entrapment operation on Dec. 5, 2012 after soliciting and accepting a P42,000 monthly commission and P394,000 in broker’s fees from lawyer Ernesto de los Santos.
Po allegedly solicited the fees in exchange for his intervention in the approval of the lease contract in favor of De Los Santos, owner-lessor of the building that will house the PRC’s satellite office located at 141 Abanao Extension in Baguio City.
The Department of Justice earlier recommended the filing of the case.
The second case was filed by the Field Investigation Office (FIO) of the Office of the Ombudsman against Po for Grave Misconduct, Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service, and Violation of Section 7(d) of Republic Act No. 6713, otherwise known as an act establishing a code of conduct and ethical standards for public officials and employees. It was filed following the conduct by the FIO of a fact-finding investigation after it received a January 2006 letter from the “Group of Mechanical Engineering Practitioners.”
In a seven-page resolution on the second case, signed on the same day as the first resolution, Morales granted the request of FIO to place Po on preventive suspension as the same “is anchored on the existence of strong evidence of guilt of Po of the present charges” in connection with PSME collections.
Before he was appointed PRC commissioner, Po served as chairman of the Board of Mechanical Engineering (BME) in 2005. He changed the system of collection for the November 2005 and May 2006 oathtaking ceremonies for passers of the ME Board Exam, directing that all PSME collections be turned over to him.
The total collection of P728,539.59 was delivered to Po but it remained unaccounted for and unremitted to the PSME.
PRC chairperson Teresita Mansala was furnished a copy of the order for preventive suspension for its immediate implementation.