Ex-DPWH director in Region 7 indicted for charging P1.8M ‘pasalubong’ as official expenses
A jet-setting officer of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in Central Visayas has been indicted in the Sandiganbayan for allegedly charging P1.8 million worth of pasalubong, or gifts from his travels, as official expenses.
In a statement, the Office of the Ombudsman said it filed three separate cases of violation of Republic Act No. 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, in the Sandiganbayan against Juanito Abergas, the former DPWH regional director in Region 7.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales upheld a previous resolution, which found Abergas of unlawfully collecting reimbursements for his supposed official trips from 2002 to 2005.
“Respondent’s claims of good faith and regularity in the performance of his official functions fail vis-à-vis the evidence presented,” read a nine-page order signed by Morales.
Citing a report from the Commission on Audit (COA), the Ombudsman said Abergas sought the reimbursement of his expenses for buying dried fish, dried mangoes, dried squid, chicharon and other grocery items, which he claimed were official expenses charged to “extraordinary and miscellaneous expenses, and actual and incidental expenses” of his office.
It said the erring DPWH official also requested for a refund of extra-terminal fees and rebooking fees for the flights of his wife.
From 2002 to 2005, the Ombudsman said Abergas had recorded a total of 133 trips. It was not clear if his travels were foreign or local.
It said 88 of his trips had no travel authorities and that he failed to submit certificates of appearance in all his travels.
“For the travels in 2004 and 2005, the COA auditors noted that Abergas failed to present boarding passes in almost all of his trips,” the Ombudsman said.
The Ombudsman denied Abergas’ explanation that his request for reimbursements were authorized by the COA since it did not issue a notice of disallowance.
It said the absence of “a notice of disallowance is not an element of the crime charged.”
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