2 DPWH officials in Negros Occidental found guilty of misconduct
The Office of the Ombudsman has found two officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in the 3rd Negros Occidental Engineering District guilty of grave abuse of misconduct in connection with the anomalies discovered in the rehabilitation of two bridges in Cauayan, Negros Occidental.
In a statement on Thursday, the Office of the Ombudsman identified the two officials as Officer-in-Charge (OIC) District Engineer Haydee Alunan and OIC-Assistant District Engineer Elsie Sabay.
The two bridges were the Mabua bridge in Barangay Poblacion and the Bagambayan bridge in Barangay Tiling, both in Cauayan town.
Alunan and Sabay were ordered dismissed from the service. Penalties also include forfeiture of retirement benefits and perpetual disqualification from holding public office or taking the civil service examination.
The Ombudsman also found probable cause to charge Alunan and Sabay with two counts of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019).
The Ombudsman’s investigation showed that the rehabilitation of the bridges, which started on February 10, 2014, was supposed to be completed on June 29, 2014. But during the ocular inspection on December 3, 2015, the Field Investigation Office discovered that both projects were unfinished.
The Ombudsman said Alunan admitted that there was delay in the completion of the projects due to intervening factors such as the removal of the water pipelines attached to the bridge railings, the relocation of the electrical post, and heavy rains and flooding. However, notices to proceed in favor of OPELL Construction and Development Corporation have been issued.
The Ombudsman found that “there was an unreasonable delay of at least one year and six months in the completion of the projects” and that there was “delay in the completion of work by more than 380%.”
“During the implementation stage, respondents allowed the contractor to continue working on the project despite poor performance/accomplishment and unreasonable delay of the contractor in the projects,” the Ombudsman’s resolution read.
“They allowed the contractor to collect full payment thereafter with understated penalty/liquidated damages. As shown in the Disbursement Vouchers, the contractor was not made to pay for the unreasonable delay of each project of at least 562 days. Thus, the amount of liquidated damages was apparently understated and respondents clearly gave unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference to the contractor in violation of law,” it added.
The Ombusdman defines “misconduct” as the unlawful behavior or gross negligence by a public officer. It said the misconduct is grave if it involves the elements of corruption, willful intent to violate the law or to disregard established rules
Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019 meanwhile, prohibits public officials from causing any undue injury to any party, including the government, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence. /ee
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