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NBI probes padded list of MWSS retirees

/ 02:29 AM September 29, 2013

Padding gives the illusion of having something big when what you have is little. Think shoulder pads.

A padded list of retirees, for instance, would require a bloated budget.

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Such is the case at the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), which is now the subject of a probe by the National Bureau of Investigation, for allegedly “padding” the list of retirees who had availed themselves of an early retirement package.

An NBI source said the bureau’s antigraft division was now looking into the alleged bloated list that would cause P454 million in losses in government funds.

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MWSS administrator Geraldo Esquivel, in a letter dated July 11 to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and resigned NBI Director Nonnatus Rojas, requested an investigation into the alleged conspiracy “to defraud the MWSS of hundreds of millions of pesos in false and unjustified claims for deferential severance pay.”

Esquivel said that based on a Supreme Court decision dated March 28, 2011, only 550 named petitioners were qualified to receive additional severance pay from the agency.

“Despite the SC ruling, petitioners’ lawyer Gabriel Advincula on May 20 submitted to the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 87 statement of accounts for the severance pay of 5,512 MWSS employees,” said Esquivel.

He said that on May 27, the Land Bank of the Philippines provided the MWSS with a copy of notice of garnishment dated May 23 and issued by Marcelino E. Cabigao, sheriff 4 of the Quezon City-RTC Branch 87, over deposits of the MWSS to cover the amount of P453,699,188.

 

Typo error?

“This 10-fold increase cannot be excused as a typographical error. The criminally fraudulent design is to increase the potential liability of the government, through the MWSS, in differential severance pay 10 times by increasing the number of those supposedly entitled thereto,” Esquivel said.

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He added that with the increase in the number of beneficiaries, “it would also potentially increase by 10 times the amount of attorney’s fees.”

In his letter, Esquivel explained that in 1996, the MWSS was reorganized pursuant to the National Water Crisis Act of 1995 and offered separation benefits through the Revised Early Retirement Incentive Package, which was availed of by 2,000 employees.

In 1997, he said the MWSS again offered retirement plan package 2 to around 5,000 employees after it entered into concession agreements with Maynilad Water Services Inc. and Manila Water Co. for the privatization of its waterworks and sewerage systems.

On January 2004, he said 550 MWSS employees, who were qualified to retire in 1997, filed a petition in the Quezon City RTC Branch 87 for supposed nonpayment of separation pay, which was granted by the court.

However, he said the Court of Appeals on Aug. 18, 2005, affirmed the lower court’s decision but with modification—that the MWSS pay only the balance of the separation fee in the amount equivalent to 0.5 per year times the basic monthly pay to employees who retired in 1997 and have not rendered less than 15 years of service, provided they were not absorbed by the private concessionaires and those who have served for more than 30 years.

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TAGS: corruption, Geraldo Esquivel, government funds, Graft, Graft and Corruption, Leila de Lima, Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, MWSS, MWSS retirees, National Bureau of Investigation, NBI, Nonnatus Rojas, retirement package
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