Environment execs suspended, charged with graft-A A +A
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
MANILA -- Three officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) were suspended for one year as they will face graft cases before the Sandiganbayan in relation to the disapproval of the survey plans of some lot owners in Zambales in 2007.
In a 15-page Review Resolution, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales ordered the indictment of DENR Regional Director Regidor De Leon, Regional Technical Director for Lands Leonardo Aggabao, Jr. and Engineer III Fernando Clerigo for violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
The case stemmed from the complaint filed by Jaime Lazaro, Salvador Osita and Monico Waje, owners of several lots covered by survey plans located at Barangay Bolitoc, Sta. Cruz, Zambales.
In their complaint, they claimed that respondents conspired in cancelling their approved survey plans to give way to the application of real estate leader DMCI Holdings, Inc. (DMCI).
They said that their application was cancelled without hearing their side and was done even before the scheduled ground survey.
Citing a certification issued by some of the respondents, the lots covered by the plans have been classified as alienable and disposable as they are agricultural in nature, according to the complainants.
They added that the lots covered by the plans have not been eaten by the West Philippine Sea contrary to the findings of the DENR's Regional Office.
"This is a clear case of putting the cart ahead of the horse," the resolution stated.
"While there is possibility that there might be legal grounds to cancel the same, still, it offers no excuse for the respondents to make legal short cuts and ignore the cardinal requirements of due process," it added.
Morales also penalized De Leon, Aggabao, Jr. and Clerigo with one year suspension without pay for being guilty of grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.
"The image of the public office is mirrored in the conduct, official and otherwise, of the personnel who work therein. It cannot be gainsaid that respondents’ conduct clearly violated the norm of public accountability and diminished the faith of the people in the (DENR)," she said. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)