PLUNDER and other criminal complaints were filed against Undersecretaries Romeo Momo and Jaime Pacanan of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and several others at the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the allegedly anomalous rehabilitation of a national road worth P426.54 million in southern Masbate province.
In their complaint filed before the Ombudsman for Luzon on November 19, 2014 that was made public just recently, Romeo Perez Esplana and Evaristo Buenaflor also charged seven officials and engineering staff of the DPWH regional office in Legazpi City, Albay.
Aside from plunder, Momo and Pacanan are also facing criminal charges that include graft and corruption, violation of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards of Government Officials and Employees under Republic Act 6713, and violation of RA 9184 or the Government Procurement Act.
Also charged was Violeta Codilla, the private contractor and managing officer of Yakal Construction and Supply Inc.
The other DPWH officials named in the complaint are accountant Ma. Teresa Armario, engineers Godofredo Beltran and Alex Lacuna, Region 5 Director Danilo Desquito, Flocerpida Azotea, Fe Longoria and the Commission on Audit resident auditor who was not named in the complaint affidavit.
The case pertains to the rehabilitation, improvement and re-asphalting and concreting of a 27-kilometer road in southern Masbate.
Momo and Pacanan allegedly used their respective positions to help the contractor to collect P426.54 million, or the total budget for the full completion of the road project.
It was found out, however, that less than 17 percent of the 27-kilometer road was actually completed.
In their letter to The Manila Times, Esplana and Buenaflor revealed that “the Philippine government was robbed of P357.48 million” because of this anomalous project.
Esplana and Buenaflor alleged that the respondents even tried to extend the duration of the contract from 510 days to 606 days without making an honest-to-goodness inventory and evaluation of the road project.
“Respondents from the DPWH did not assign a resident Materials Testing Engineer who should be there at the project office in Masbate, and who should have visited the project sites regularly to ensure that all materials used were in accordance with DPWH specifications,” they said.
“Based on the reports, the DPWH assigned a Materials Testing Engineer but said officer did not visit the project site and only made table-based assessment reports purely on estimates and imagination,” Esplana and Buenaflor added.