DAVAO CITY—The falsification of documents, signatures included, in connection with projects’ implementation is a common practice in the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), claimed a former agency worker, who had sued four social welfare officials in the Ombudsman on Friday.
Charged with falsification of public documents were Annabelle Jabla, regional financial analyst of the DSWD’s Kapitbisig Laban sa Kahirapan–Comprehensive Integrated Delivery of Social Service (Kalahi-CIDSS) program, and engineer Santos Eusebio Jr., Kalahi-CIDSS regional community infrastructure specialist.
Those charged with dereliction of duties were Priscilla Razon, DSWD officer in charge regional director, and Loreta Anas, head of the DSWD’s human resources department.
June Sanchez-Obenza, former community development assistant under the Pamana project of the DSWD’s Kalahi-CIDSS program, said the forgery of signatures of two construction workers in the bunkhouse project for Typhoon “Pablo” victims in Compostela town in Compostela Valley was among many incidents of falsification of documents by some social welfare officials.
“Perhaps, only two workers were discovered in Compostela because it could be that all the others were ghost workers,” she told reporters here after she filed the cases in the Office of the Ombudsman for Mindanao.
She said the same thing also happened in the typhoon-ravaged towns of Baganga, Cateel and Boston in Davao Oriental, and she had witnessed some of these acts of dishonesty among officials.
Obenza said, in other DSWD programs, the same thing happened in the past, long before Typhoon Pablo hit Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley.
She said, in Kalahi-CIDSS projects, social welfare officials would also connive to forge documents to meet the deadline set by the World Bank, the main fund donor.
“There are two issues here: The forging of signatures in the regular implementation of DSWD’s Kalahi-CIDSS program and the forging of signatures in the disaster response projects, particularly in the construction of bunkhouse [for typhoon-devastated areas],” Obenza said.
In justifying the charges she brought up against Jabla, Eusebio, Razon and Anas, she said it was obvious the four officials were involved in a conspiracy at the government’s disadvantage.
She said she opted to seek the Ombudsman’s help in combating the malpractice because the complaints she had earlier filed in the DSWD’s grievances and redress committee never yielded positive results.
Obenza said the four DSWD officials “have conspired and committed acts of grave misconduct and dishonesty in office” and acts that are “criminal in nature,” such as forging of public documents.
She identified Jabla and Eusebio in the charge sheet as the ones responsible for the forgery, while Razon and Anas also allegedly played major roles in the misconduct.
In her affidavit-complaint, she recounted how on Nov. 14-16, during the request for fund releases, preparation and review workshop at Eden Nature Resort, Jabla and Eusebio ordered the forging of signatures of public officials to speed up the release of funds for Kalahi-CIDSS projects. She would not name the public officials, whose signatures had been forged, but added she had documents to prove this claim.
Obenza said she opposed the move but the two officials retorted it was the only way to speed up the implementation of the projects in deference to the deadline the World Bank had set.
“My immediate supervisor, Nick Digol, the community process specialist, and I have always been against this practice but it has been persistently forced upon other area coordinators because of the instructions of Jabla and Eusebio,” she added.
In her affidavit, Obenza also mentioned a complaint made by a private contractor for a Kalahi-CIDSS project in Manay, Davao Oriental, about a “commission,” which the Kalahi-CIDSS engineer (Eusebio) had allegedly demanded.
She said the “commission” was about 10 percent of the total project cost.
Obenza said, when she confronted Eusebio about this, the official had told her he was “merely soliciting sponsorship for his daughter’s birthday.”
She said what drove her to sue the four DSWD officials was the hope that it would eventually trigger a wider investigation.
“I decided to file the case in the Ombudsman because there are already a lot of things coming out in the media, and the central office is still asking us to wait [for the results of the grievance committee investigation] but are they really investigating?” Obenza asked.