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Two ex-PPA officials cleared of graft raps

The Office of the Ombudsman has dismissed the graft charges filed against two former Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) officials over the issuance of port permits to DMCI Mining Corp. (DMCIMC).

Former PPA general manager Juan Sta. Ana and former assistant general manager for operations Raul Santos were recently cleared of criminal and administrative case by the Office of the Ombudsman.

Records showed that Agham party-list Rep. Angelo Palmones accused PPA officials, along with DMCI Holdings Inc. and DMCI Mining Corp. officials, of graft charges, grave misconduct, dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.

The Ombudsman, in its joint order dated June 19, 2019 has found no evidence to charge Sta. Ana and Santos with manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence under Section 3 (e) of Republic Act 3019 in granting a five-year renewal port permit to DMCIMC.

Citing various relevant circulars of the PPA, the Ombudsman ruled that submission by an applicant of either foreshore lease contract, or a provisionary lease permit or official receipt of the annual occupancy fee would suffice for the grant of a five-year renewable port permit.

The Joint Order noted that DMCIMC had in fact submitted official receipts issued by the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office of Masinloc, showing payment of occupancy fees from 2012 to 2014 amounting to P1.203 million.

The evidence on record, do not demonstrate that respondents Santos and Sta. Ana acted with manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence in granting DMCIC a five-year automatic renewal of its port permit.

“First, the said automatic renewal is a policy adopted by the PPA to ease up procedures in doing business, and ensure competitiveness in the delivery of vital port services,” Sta. Ana said citing the court decision.

The Ombudsman also took note that several other mining firms were similarly granted five-year renewable permits, thus negating the complainant’s allegation of manifest partiality and bad faith on the part of the respondent PPA officials.

On the claim of gross negligence, the Ombudsman ruled that the numerous letters sent by the PPA to the complainant refuted the complainant’s charge that the said officials failed to act of its request to investigate the allegations of irregularities in the issuance of port permits.

The joint order had effectively reversed and set aside the previous resolutions of former ombudsman Conchita Morales dated Nov. 28, 2017. It likewise explained that the Ombudsman was not barred from revoking, repealing or overturning the earlier ruling of a predecessor in office, citing the ruling of the Supreme Court in the case of Alvarez vs People.

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