LWUA chairman Pichay bucks Ombudsman suspensionBy Tetch Torres
MANILA, Philippines—Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) Chairman Prospero Pichay asked the Court of Appeals to stop the implementation of the six months preventive suspension imposed against him by the Office of the Ombudsman.
In his petition for certiorari, Pichay said the acting Ombudsman Orlando Casimiro committed grave abuse of discretion when he approved the suspension imposed against him.
Pichay said Casimiro approved the recommendation when former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez twice denied the recommendation to suspend him.
Pichay has been preventively suspended by the Office of the Ombudsman to make sure that he will not be able to interfere with the investigation in connection with a case of grave misconduct filed against him. Pichay is being charged with violation of Republic Act 6713, or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officers and Employees.
LWUA employees Rustico Tutol, Luis Estrada, and Carmen Amores filed the complaint against Pichay over the questionable purchase of 60 percent outstanding capital stock of the Express Savings Bank, Inc. (ESBI).
Complainants said LWUA paid P80 million for the 60 percent shares of ESBI, whose main office is located in Cabuyao, Laguna.
The bank was undergoing rehabilitation from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas at the time of LWUA’s purchase. The employees added that through LWUA Board Resolution No. 336, the government agency invested another P400 million to increase the bank’s authorized capital.
The complainants claimed Pichay ignored Administrative Order No. 59 which requires that all proposals to establish subsidiary corporations shall be submitted to the Monetary Board for review, and has to be approved by the Office of the President.
They added that Section 15 of the General Appropriations Act for 2009, which restricts the use of government funds as investments, or as deposits in private banking institutions, was also violated.
The Ombudsman’s investigation will determine if Pichay is administratively guilty, which would warrant dismissal from service.