Echiverri still faces more graft cases, now totaling 33
The Ombudsman has filed three new graft charges against former Caloocan City Mayor Enrico Echiverri before the Sandiganbayan, bringing the total count of his pending court cases to 33.
This time, prosecutors accused Echiverri of irregularly awarding two contracts for drainage works totaling P17.27 million in 2012, without securing the prior approval of the Sangguniang Panlungsod.
There were also no specific or itemized appropriation ordinances for the drainage projects awarded to P.B. Grey Construction and Red Scorpion Construction and Supply in Barangays 177 and 64. The contracts were each worth P16.4 million and P860,450.42, respectively.
Similarly, a P34.37-million agreement with Beneficial Life Insurance Co., Inc. (Benlife) in 2013 came without the council’s authorization and without a budget law.
The city allegedly entered into the group life insurance agreement for barangay disaster volunteers without the benefit of a public bidding.
Former city accountant Edna Centeno and city budget officer Jesusa Garcia were named Echiverri’s coaccused in the two graft cases concerning the drainage projects. Centeno and Garcia also face two counts of falsification of public documents.
Centeno and Garcia were also Echiverri’s coaccused in the Benlife graft case, along with former city treasurer Evelina Garma and city administrator Russel Ramirez.
Prosecutors recommended that bail be set at P90,000 for Echiverri, P114,000 for Centeno and Garcia, and P30,000 for Garma and Ramirez.
Related cases have slowly piled up against Echiverri since March. All in all, his 33 graft cases concerned payments totaling P192.48 million, which were not subject to the prior approval of the city council or based on any appropriation ordinance.
On March 7, Echiverri was first charged with two counts of graft over two drainage projects worth P4.7 million. Later that month, five more graft cases were filed on March 24 over four drainage and street extension projects worth P15.22 million, as well as a P2-million barangay hall for Barangay 167.
One more graft case followed on May 2 concerning a P3.61-million street concreting project. On July 3, Echiverri was charged with two counts of graft over an P8.08-million drainage improvement project and a P3.54-million streetlight installation project. Then on Sept. 11, he was slapped with one more graft case over a P1.44-million road repair project.
This was followed by the filing on Sept. 22 of the largest batch of charges against Echiverri: 19 counts of graft over 13 drainage projects totaling P77.82 million, four street repair projects totaling P16.29 million, a P3.23-million lighting installation project, and the construction of a multi-purpose hall in Barangay Urduja for P4.9 million.
Echiverri served as mayor for three terms from 2004 to 2013, before becoming the representative of the city’s first district from 2013 to 2016. He lost his attempt in 2016 to wrest the mayoralty away from his successor Oscar Malapitan.
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