After 17 years, DPWH exec found guilty of graft
A former regional director of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in Region V has been found guilty of graft by the Sandiganbayan for approving an anomalous car lease in January 2001.
Sandiganbayan Seventh Division said in its decision dated November 16 that Engr. Eleno Colinares Jr. was convicted for violating Section 3(e) (Corrupt practices of public officers) of R.A. 3019 or the Anti Graft and Corrupt Practices act when he authorized the release of checks worth P362,372 and P134,836 to a certain Elvin Bautista, which the anti-graft court was his dummy.
The checks were intended as payments for the rental of a 1995 Mitsubishi Pajero Intercooler Turbo.
A the testimony of Edita Nota, a state auditor from the Commission on Audit in Region V, stated that she discovered a lease contract between DPWH and a certain Joevie Sardua for the use of the car for P1,200 per day.
Colinares explained that he requested a vehicle from the DPWH Main Office to perform his duties as regional director. It was approved by the DPWH, which ordered the Regional Equipment Engineer to canvass prices for the lease of a vehicle.
But Nota said that after completing the first lease contract, the Mitsubishi Pajero was sold to a new owner. DPWH then entered into a second lease contract with the vehicle’s new owner — Bautista.
The accused said he only talked to Bautista after the latter acquired the car to inquire about the possibility of a lease. He denied that he and “Bautista” are one and the same person, claiming that Bautista is a contractor based in Sulu. He likewise denied he and Bautista are related.
The Sandiganbayan, however, said that Colinares failed to answer allegations that Bautista is his son — as prosecution showed a birth certificate of a baby boy named Bautista Colinares, born to an Eleno Colinares and Evelyn Reliz Bautista in Sulu.
He also failed to substantially explain why the rental payment was deposited to his account and not Bautista’s, who never showed up in any of the case hearings.
The Sandiganbayan said the presence of Bautista could have disproved allegations that he was merely a dummy.
The anti-graft court also noted that Colinares was not authorized by the Department of Budget and Management to lease a car for more than 15 days.
Colinares will serve a sentence of six years and one month up to eight years of jail time. He is also perpetually disqualified from holding any public office. /ee
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.