PRC officials charged over anomalous lease
MANILA — State prosecutors have filed graft charges at the Sandiganbayan against five Professional Regulatory Commission officials over alleged anomalies in its 2012 lease contract for its regional office in Baguio City.
The case filed by the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon arose from the PRC’s approval of a 15-month lease contract and the payment of a P6.7-million rent to CTLL Building along Kisad Road without going through competitive public bidding.
The PRC officials allegedly pre-selected a “preferred supplier,” which “effectively deprived the PRC of the chance to obtain the best, if not, the most reasonable price.”
Charged for violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act are the following former PRC officials: Chairperson Teresita Manzala, Commissioner Alfredo Po, and Supervising Professional Regulations Officer Tricia Camara.
Also accused were two PRC officials dismissed in November over the alleged scheme: then-Cordillera Administrative Region Director Teofilo Gaius Sison, Jr., and then chief professional regulations officer Sarah Edna Tabije.
According to the charge sheet, Sison repeatedly wrote Manzala and Po to stress the urgent need for PRC Baguio to relocate. He prepared a cost-benefit analysis stating that CTLL Building was the best site for the new office.
Manzala, meanwhile, is accused of issuing and signing the July 20, 2012 letter of intent on July, which informed building owner Ernesto delos Santos of PRC’s intent to lease the building even without public bidding. This was also months ahead of the execution of the contract.
Meanwhile, Po allegedly directed PRC-Baguio to begin the transfer of the office.
Tabije allegedly countersigned the contract and prepared the obligation request for the release of the rental payments, while Camara purportedly certified the availability of the funds despite not having seen any document from the Bids and Awards Committee authorizing the lease.
“They also extended preferential treatment to Delos Santos, who unduly earned rentals from the aforesaid lease paid for by public funds amounting to PHP6,696,511.98, to the great prejudice of the PRC and the Filipino people,” the charge sheet read.
The information carried a bail recommendation of P30,000 for each accused official.
Commissioner Po was caught in an entrapment operation by the National Bureau of Investigation in December 2012, after he allegedly accepted from De los Santos a P42,000 monthly commission and a P394,000 broker’s commission.
Po allegedly solicited the fees in exchange for helping De los Santos bag the lease contract. Morales ordered his dismissal in May 2013. SFM