LEGAZPI CITY: The Citizens Crime Watch (CCW) assailed the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for its half-baked anti-corruption drive after it replaced a questionable district engineer with an even more controversial figure.
CCW Bicol Chapter Chief Investigator for Government Corruption Romeo Esplana earlier hailed DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson for immediately relieving Camarines Norte district engineer Simeon Arias for “suspicious behavior.”
However, Esplana, former DPWH regional public affairs chief, lamented the fact that Arias’ replacement, Elmer Redrico, Singson’s operations officer, has pending cases and was sacked twice as district engineer for various reasons.
Arias’ former position was dubbed by engineers as a lucrative and much sought-after assignment since it controlled two congressional districts.
Singson relieved Arias on March 4, 2014, for failing to observe the “minimum 5 percent in variance between the government cost estimate and winning bid amount” to avoid any suspicion during the bidding.
Arias was replaced by Redrico, a former district engineer, who was tapped by Bicol Regional Director Danilo Dequito to oversee the construction of bunkhouses for Super Typhoon Yolanda victims in Tacloban.
However, the Presidential Assistance on Yolanda Rehabilitation headed by former Sen. Panfilo Lacson found that the bunkhouses were substandard and unfit for human occupancy. Redrico refused to comment on these allegations and said his recent appointment was a management decision.
The CCW said that compared to Redrico and other DPWH employees, the case of Arias was a minor one. Both Arias and Redrico together with Albay 3rd district engineer Efren Manalo were sacked last year for the same offence—their questionable bidding projects.
It said that 42 officials and employees headed no less by Dequito have been implicated in the highly documented P150 million plunder complaint filed before the Ombudsman in 2012 involving ghost equipment procurement and the disposal of many operational equipment that were anomalously declared junk and cannibalized.
Aside from Redrico, the five-page plunder complaint backed by an 18-page investigation report and 84 documentary evidences also included retired Asst. Regional Director Jesus Salmo, legal officer Oliver Rodulfo, Construction Chief Godofredo Beltran, Maintenance Chief Antonio Saguinsin, administrative officer Flor Azotea, Regional Equipment Chief Casimiro Castaneda, personnel officer Doris Losantas, and Masbate area equipment engineer Eddie Potestad.