A high-ranking official of the Department of Works and Highways (DPWD) has denied allegations that he plundered public funds in connection with the allegedly anomalous rehabilitation of a national road worth P426.54 million in Masbate province in the Bicol Region.
In his 18-page counter-affidavit before the Office of the Ombudsman, Romeo Momo, undersecretary for regional operations of the DPWH Central Office in Manila, refuted claims of complainants Romeo Perez Esplana and Evaristo Buenaflor Jr. that he conspired with other fellow government workers and one Violeta Codilla of Yakal Construction and Supply Inc.
A career official in the DPWH, Momo said the accusations only meant to harass him with the complainants having “no evidence at all” against him.
“At the onset, it is worthy to mention that one of the complainants herein, Mr. Esplana, was a former employee of the DPWH who was affected by the rationalization plan, thus his severance from the department and since then, it becomes his ‘profession’ to file complaints against officials and employees of the department,” he added.
In their complaint filed before the Ombudsman for Luzon on Nov. 19, 2014 but was made public just recently, the complainants also charged seven officials, including Undersecretary Jaime Pacanan and engineering staff of the DPWH regional office in Legazpi City with plunder, graft and malversation of public funds
Codilla, Yakal managing officer, was slapped with graft and malversation charges.
The case arose from the allegedly anomalous rehabilitation, improvement and re-asphalting and concreting of 27 kilometers of the national road in Masbate.
During inspection of the project, only less than 17 percent was actually accomplished yet the respondents, Momo and Pacanan, allegedly helped the contractor to collect up to 100 percent of the project fund of P426.54 million.
Esplana and Buenaflor alleged that the respondents even worked for extension of the duration of the contract from 510 calendar days to 606 calendar days with additional funds without making an inventory and evaluation of all sections of the roads from Kilometer 31 to Km 72.
Momo, however, claimed that the bidding process conducted by the Bids and Awards Committee of the Central Office of the DPWH “was above-board and all the requirements of [R 9184] were complied with.”