• Ombudsman urged to suspend MWSS administrator

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    Employees of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) have called on the Ombudsman to suspend MWSS administrator Gerardo Esquivel and expedite the graft charges filed against him over the irregular hiring of 40 consultants in the past two years.

    MWSS Labor Association president Napoleon Quinones said it has been a year since they filed the graft charges against Esquivel and the MWSS board of trustees for violating Republic Act (RA) 9184, otherwise known as the Government Procurement Reform Act, Presidential Decree 1445 or the Government Auditing Code of the Philippines, and RA 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

    Esquivel, who contributed P10 million to Benigno Aquino 3rd’s campaign kitty in the 2010 elections, hired 40 consultants and approved 162 job order workers despite a moratorium on the hiring of additional personnel, resulting in the irregular disbursement of government funds amounting to P14.9 million.

    “MWSS employees are demoralized. Esquivel and his board of trustees have withheld the benefits of regular employees, all the while engaging in a hiring spree of consultants,” Quinones said.

    The complaint-letter dated June 1, 2012 underscored several violations, including the approval of the consultants’ salaries more than the amount allowed by law, the absence of approval from the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel on the hiring of legal consultants and written concurrence from the Commission on Audit, and the consultants exercising supervision over the regular employees as opposed to Civil Service rules.

    Quinones said the MWSS Employees’ Association plans to seek the help of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption to help them with their advocacy.

    “We appeal to the Ombudsman to act on our case expeditiously. The MWSS leadership has committed grave abuse of discretion and authority that is definitely not in step with the Tuwid Na Daan policy of the administration of President Benigno Aquino 3rd,” he added.

    In his first State of the Nation Address, President Aquino trained his guns on the MWSS for huge benefits released during the term of the past administration. This prompted the passage of laws governing government-owned and/or controlled corporations, but MWSS employees maintained that Esquivel’s hiring binge was an irregular act.

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