The Office of the Ombudsman on Tuesday said it has found sufficient grounds to file graft charges before the Sandiganbayan against former Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA Administrator Melquiades Robles and several other LRTA officials in connection with allegedly anomalous implementation of maintenance and janitorial contracts.
Also facing indictment were Federico Canar Jr., Dennis Francisco, Evelyn Macalino, Marilou Liscano, Elmo Stephen Triste, Eduardo Abiva, Nicholas Ombao, Roger Vaño, Maynard Tolosa, and Juliet Labisto.
Ordered charged, too, were service providers Lilia Diaz and Dennis Acorda of the joint venture (JV) of COMM Builders and Technology Philippines Corporation, PMP Incorporated and Gradski Soabracaj GRAS.
The LRTA inked a deal with the JV for preventive and corrective maintenance of the trains, rails and depot facilities of LRT Line 1 in 2009.
The JV, which must deploy at least 793 workers and janitors to LRT line stations and rolling stocks under the deal, was paid “the combined costs of human capital and consumed material totaling P400.6 million” in the same year, according to the Ombudsman.
The anti-graft body’s Field Investigation Office, however, found that the JV deployed only 209 personnel to the stations and depots.
It was also found that the disbursement vouchers of the series of monthly transactions were processed without payrolls.
“Instead of pushing for the implementation of the awarded contract, the respondents agreed to the reduction of janitorial manpower,” Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said.
The maintenance and janitorial contracts were extended until July 2013.
In a joint resolution, the Ombudsman said “the joint venture is not justified to deviate from its minimum commitment” and that “it is rather unfortunate that some public respondents aided the contractor in its desire to reduce its committed number of janitorial workforce.”
The respondents “cannot sweepingly claim that they had regularly performed their duties because had they done so, they would not have given in to the demands of a private contractor,” Morales added.
The Ombudsman also ordered the six-month suspension of Canar, Francisco, Triste, Macalino, Liscano, Abiva, Ombao, Vaño, Tolosa and Labisto after it found them guilty of misconduct.
In case the respondent is no longer in the service, the suspension is convertible to a fine equivalent to his six months’ salary.
The rules provide respondents the opportunity to file motions for reconsideration of the Ombudsman’s resolution.