4 environment bureau officials face graft raps
MANILA, Philippines–Four officers of the Environment Management Bureau (EMB) in the Cordillera and two private contractors are facing criminal charges in the Sandiganbayan for alleged anomalies in the repair of the agency’s regional office building in Benguet in 2004.
The Office of the Ombudsman on Thursday said it had approved the indictment in the antigraft court of EMB-Cordillera head Joel Salvador, accountant Asterio Tolentino Jr., budget officer Perlita Mauri and officer in charge Rolando Reyes.
The EMB is under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
The Ombudsman’s Public Assistance and Corruption Prevention Office brought charges against Salvador, Tolentino and Mauri for violation of Article 220 (Illegal Use of Public Funds) of the Revised Penal Code.
Tolentino, Reyes and Mauri were also indicted on several counts of violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act (RA) No. 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
Also charged were David Dominong and Mariano Ang of Pyramid Hardware Construction Supply.
The complaints against EMB officials Hermilina Lausa and Ligaya Garcia were dismissed for lack of probable cause.
Citing a report by the Commission on Audit, the Ombudsman said the respondents allegedly colluded with one another to realign P759,000 in public funds intended for the ecological solid waste management project in Tuba, Benguet, to the rehabilitation of the EMB-Cordillera office.
“There is no showing that an authority to realign the budget was secured by the [EMB-Cordillera],” Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said in a statement.
“Their collaborative acts gave way to illegal expenditure of public funds intended for another purpose,” she added.
The Ombudsman said the respondents awarded the contract for the repair of Salvador’s office and the purchase of construction materials without a public bidding as required by RA No. 9184, or the Government Procurement Reform Act.
“Moreover, the payment to suppliers Ang and Dominong were facilitated despite the nonperformance of the contracted labor and deliveries of construction materials, lack of purchase orders, certificate of inspection and assessment,” the Ombudsman said.
It added that the “retention money” was returned to the private contractors despite the defects in the construction project.
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