Ex-La Union water exec, consultant facing 200 counts of corruption raps
State prosecutors have formally charged the former head of the Metro La Union Water District and a consultant with 200 criminal charges at the Sandiganbayan over an anomalous deals that cost the government roughly P20.8 million from 1999 to 2000.
Former MLUWD general manager Felipe Picazo and consultant Conrado Ganaden of Condor Construction Corp. each face one count of violating Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, one count of violating Section 3(g) of the said law, and 198 counts of the complex crime of malversation through falsification.
According to the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon, the MLUWD in December 1998 entered into a consultancy contract with Condor without conducting public bidding. Besides the lack of bidding, the expenses of P24,475,300 exceeded the appropriated amount of P15 million, leading to a discrepancy of P9,475,300.
The contract also allowed Ganaden to use public funds to procure construction materials; he was paid 12% of the total construction expenses. State prosecutors claimed the consultant actually lacked expertise and track record in the construction business.
The 198 malversation cases, meanwhile, arose from the falsification of invoices and purchase orders to make it appear that about P11.3 million were paid to five suppliers of construction materials from January 1999 to September 2000.
Picazo and Ganaden allegedly pretended that MLUWD paid P7.9 million to Centro Lumber and Hardware Corp. in more than 130 instances. Amounts of P1.6 million, P797,228.46, P684,945.37 and P304,290 were also purportedly paid to Philippine Topwood Industries and Trading Corp., Columbia Wire and Cable Corp., Kings Commercial Corp., and AC&R Engineering.
Prosecutors claimed the two actually “misappropriated [the funds] for their own personal advantage and benefit” when they “made it appear” the suppliers issued the quotations and cash invoices to justify the release of the payments.
Former board members Zita de Guzman, Victoria San Jose and Rodolfo Daligues were charged as coaccused for one count each of violating Sections 3(e) and 3(g) of the graft law, which arose from the December 1998 contract that allowed the alleged scheme to happen. Section 3(e) prohibits public officials from causing undue injury to the government while Section 3(g) prohibits officials from entering into disadvantageous contracts for the government.
Prosecutors recommended that bail be set at P39.66 million for Picazo and Ganaden—more than double the amount they allegedly pocketed from the construction materials—and P60,000 each for De Guzman, San Jose and Daligues.
The graft cases arising from the December 1998 contract were raffled off to the Sandiganbayan Sixth Division, while the malversation through falsification cases over the spurious purchases of construction materials went to the Seventh Division. JE/rga
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