3 environment execs face graft for realigning funds

MANILA Philippines The Office of the Ombudsman indicted three officials of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the Cordillera Administrative Region for several alleged anomalous transactions.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales approved the filing of criminal charges against EMB Regional Director Joel Salvador, Accountant II Asterio Tolentino Jr., and Budget Officer Perlita Mauri before the Sandiganbayan over questionable transactions stemming from the rehabilitation of their office building in 2004.

Also facing criminal charges are Officer-in-Charge Rolando Reyes and contractors David Dominong and Mariano Ang of Pyramid Hardware Construction Supply (PHCS).

The cases stemmed from the complaint by the Public Assistance and Corruption Prevention Office of the Office of the Ombudsman based on the audit report of the Commission on Audit.

In a 24-page resolution, the office said there was collusion between Salvador, Tolentino and Mauri in realigning the funds for the Ecological Solid Waste Management Project of the Municipality of Tuba, Benguet and instead used it for the building rehabilitation project.

“There is no showing that authority to realign the budget was secured by the management … their collaborative acts gave way to illegal expenditure of public fund intended for another purpose,” the resolution stated.

Ombudsman investigators also discovered that the award to Dominong of the construction contract for the regional director’s office and the purchase of construction materials from PHCS amounting to P758,998.07 were transacted without the requisite public bidding.

The payment to suppliers Ang and Dominong was facilitated despite the non-performance of the contracted labor and deliveries of construction materials, lack of purchase orders, certificate of inspection and assessment and the release of the retention money to the contractor was made despite the existence of defects in the construction project, the resolution said.The charges against Acting Cashier Hermilina Lausa and Officer-in-Charge of the Administrative and Finance Division Ligaya Garcia were dismissed for lack of probable cause.