LEGAZPI CITY: Graft charges have finally been filed before the Office of the Ombudsman against four top officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways regional office here, including three persons from construction firm for constructing a public road inside her property and bulldozing down trees growing there.
The graft complaint followed after a widow Evelyn Cordial Alim wrote President Benigno Aquino 3rd on August 8 detailing how the respondents pitilessly transgressed her small farm at Barangay Tupas in Donsol, Sorsogon.
The respondents built a shortcut route using heavy equipment and cut down fruit-bearing trees without her knowledge and consent. Adding insult to injury, Alim said that in an effort to appease, the contractor accompanied by the DPWH project engineer offered her P100,000 as payment for her silence and the right of way.
She said the offer was made after her complaint before the barangay on June 27 that caused the suspension of the P46-million project.
Charged before the Ombudsman in a three-page complaint dated September 30 are regional director Danilo Dequito, construction division chief Godofredo Beltran, planning and design division chief Rosy Azupardo-Cantara, Evangeline Padilla-Gomez, and the contractor-owners of CTC Builders and Supply, brothers John Lao Clemente and Mark Clemente, and one Cris Quiam, the alleged foreman.
Dequito, Beltran, Cantara and Gomez were signatories in the documents showing the plans for a road-widening contract stretching the Banuang Gurang road in Donsol, Sorsogon.
The complaint said the plans for CTC Builders and Supply was pre-pared by Gomez. The project is un-der implementation of the Con-struction Division under Beltran.
DPWH insiders said Secretary Rogelio Singson had given his directive in early 2011 that planning division engineers shall have their duties exclusive for planning and design and shall not in anyway handle construction projects.
Comprising 5,256 square meters in a U-shape with the road in the background covering almost three sides of the property, the DPWH decided to construct a road going through Alim’s land. Dequito told the Donsol mayor that such road would give more convenience and comfort to commuters.
In a separate letter to Sen. Panfilo Lacson on September 28, Alim pleads: “I was told one of the officials I have accused of had already release his reaction in my case that ‘my action was among the least of his problems.’ Meron po kayang pupuntahan ang kaso ko [Will the case I am pursuing prosper]?”
“I am not selling my farm, or a parcel of it. It is just a small farm. But the government by force had already taken part of it in the absence of our knowledge and consent with our nourished planted fruit-bearing trees cut down and taken. It is because the DPWH simply wanted the route straightened and shortened even if there is already an existing road,” said Alim.