• Workers file new case vs. MWSS chief

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    The Office of the Ombudsman has been asked to prosecute Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) Administrator Gerardo Esquivel for alleged anomalous hiring of 21 students under the agency’s Special Program for Employment of Students or SPES last year.

    Aside from Esquivel, also named respondent in the four-page graft complaint was Executive Assistant Cecille Bautista. Esquivel had been earlier charged before the Ombudsman for his controversial hiring of 42 consultants.

    The latest complaint filed by the MWSS Labor Association (MLA) through its officers Rene Zapiter, Napoleon Quinones, Virgilio Matel, Mario Rodrigo Sejera and Diosdado Nacar sought the preventive suspension of Esquivel and Bautista.

    Quinones confirmed that it is the eleventh graft complaint filed against Esquivel.

    In their complaint, they accused Esquivel and Bautista of allowing the overpayment of the salaries of the students under SPES.

    “Bautista in grave abuse of authority and in total disregard of the laws persuaded, induced and influenced the administrator to hire 21 students under SPES,” the complaint said, adding that “Esquivel, persuaded, induced and influenced by his administrative assistant Cecille Bautista clandestinely in grave abuse of authority in total disregard of the IRR issued and approved office order no. 2012-063 for the hiring of students under the SPES.”

    MWSS employees stressed that the 21 students employed and hired by the respondents under the SPES did not pass through the Public Employment Service Office for proper evaluation and validation of the requirements as prescribed under implementing rules and regulation.

    On May 7, 2012, Esquivel issued office order no. 2012-063 to hire 21 students from the University of the Philippines-Diliman under the SPES for a period of two months.

    The 21 students were hired and employed based on the said office order approved by Esquivel without complying with the criteria and requirements as provided under the IRR of RA 9547 (or Special Program for Employment of Students Act), thus, defeating the purpose of the SPES program.

    The employed students received an P18,318 monthly pay.

    The complainants also added that Esquivel and Bautista should be held liable for failing to comply with the pertinent laws on the matter adding that the two “committed grave abuse of discretion when they failed to comply with the provisions of RA 9547 and its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) resulting in the overpayment of salaries and wages of 21 students hired/employed under the SPES.”

    RA 9547 passed on April 1, 2009 had expanded the coverage of the original special program for employment of students.

    Meanwhile, a demonstration was held in front of the MWSS office in Balara, Quezon City by more than 200 members of the Samahan ng Mamamayan Laban sa Kati-walian (SMLK) and Courage or Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees calling for Esquivel’s ouster.

    “Esquivel should step down from office to honor President Aquino’s promise that MWSS will become an exemplary agency of his administration,” SMLK said, in a statement.

    “It appears that Esquivel duped the president by not telling him about the more than 40 consultants hired by the agency in violation of the rules,” the group lamented.

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