DPWH in crosshairs of Ombudsman

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    THE Office of the Ombudsman has the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) on its crosshairs for its failure to enforce orders from the anti-corruption agency regarding sanctions against erring public works officials.

    Ombudsman Samuel R. Martires issued Office Order No. 111 dated January 27, 2020 for the creation of a special investigation team that was given 30 days to probe the cause of the line agency’s inaction and come up with a report and recommendations.

    “In the interest of the service, Assistant Ombudsman Caesar D. Asuncion is hereby directed to form a panel of investigators to conduct a fact-finding investigation on the failure of the Department of Public Works and Highways to implement the orders of this Office,” the Ombudsman said in the order.

    Martires specifically referred to three Ombudsman rulings in different administrative charges that have been resolved.

    The first is the four-page resolution dated November 29, 2017 in an administrative case that affirmed the dismissal from government service of DPWH-Davao Oriental Engineering District officers Joselito B. Caballero, Noel L. Pineda, Alberto L. Cainghog, and Edward del Rosario Sevilla.

    All four were found guilty of grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service in a decision dated July 17, 2017. The case involved alleged irregularities in a farm-to-market road contract that did not undergo public bidding.

    The second on was a decision issued on April 30, 2018 finding DPWH-Manila engineer Oscar Isidro guilty of grave misconduct and serious dishonesty punishable by dismissal from government service.

    Investigators established that Isidro had a hand in the falsification of documents that bled the DPWH through expenses on ghost repairs on agency vehicles.

    The last concerns the six-month preventive suspension imposed against DPWH Region 8 assistant director Virgilio Eduarte, legal officer Eulogio Laboga, Quality Assurance and Hydrology Division chief Brenilda Mendoza, Equipment Management Division chief Romy Gumban, and Road Heightening and Tide Embankment chief Serafin Lago.

    The suspension was in relation to a finding that there was strong evidence against them regarding a complaint for grave misconduct, serious dishonesty, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.

    Complainant businessman Edgar Tiu filed an administrative case after his firm B.M. Marketing was disqualified in the bidding for the P264.22 million storm surge protection wall and road work in Baras, Palo, Leyte despite submitting the lowest offer of P216.27 million.

    Tiu said the respondents questioned the lack of Land Transportation Office registration for his heavy equipment machineries despite his explanation that he got them brand new and the papers are still under process.