Ex-La Union water district head, 4 others face charges

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The Office of the Ombudsman has filed graft charges before the Sandiganbayan against former Metro La Union Water District (MLUWD) general manager Felipe Picazo and four others in connection with a consultancy deal they entered into in December 1998 for the construction of the MLUWD.

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Named respondents along with Picazo in two separate charge sheets for violation of the provisions in the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act were former board members Zita de Guzman, Rodolfo Daligues, Conrado Ganaden and hen-board member/secretary Victoria San Jose.

Yasmin Soraya Masukat, graft investigation and prosecution officer of the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon, alleged in the first charge sheet that the respondents, acting in conspiracy with each other and with Ganaden, entered into the consultancy contract with Condor Construction Corp. without public bidding.

Ganaden, who represented Condor and sat at the MLUWD as consultant, was allegedly allowed “to procure construction materials and disburse funds relating thereto and be paid 12 percent of the total construction expenses, despite his lack of expertise and track record in the construction business…”

This caused undue disadvantage to the government in the amount of P9.475 million.

Masukat alleged in the second charge sheet that the respondents “enter[ed]into a manifestly and grossly disadvantageous contract” with firm for the construction of the MLUWD for a total expenditure of P24,475,300 “in excess of the appropriated amount of P15 million.”

Meanwhile, Picazo and Ganaden are also facing 198 counts of malversation of public funds through falsification of public document covering various dates in 1999 and 2000.

The charge sheets alleged that Picazo, allegedly in conspiracy with Ganaden, “did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously appropriate, take or misappropriate to their own personal advantage and benefit” various sums amounting to about P11 million “by falsifying the quotation, charge invoice and purchase order.”

The two respondents allegedly made it appear that Philippine Topwood Industries and Trading Corporation, Centro Lumber and Hardware Corporation, Kings Commercial Corporation, Columbia Wire and Cable Corporation, and A C & R Engineering submitted a quotation and issued invoices for the purchase of construction materials, which resulted in the release of public funds.

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