Ombud orders dismissal of 3 DEPW officials

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Sunday, March 30, 2014


THE Office of the Ombudsman Visayas has removed from their posts three officials of the Cebu City Engineer’s Office, who were accused of asking for money and items from a contractor of various city funded projects.

It found Juanito Pua Jr., head of the construction division of the City’s Department of Engineering and Public Works (DEPW); Joel Pasatiempo, project inspector; and June Nadine Sison, assistant city engineer, liable for grave misconduct, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of public service and violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

“Respondents’ solicitations from complainant (businessman Robert Montenegro) with temerity show an element of corruption, clear intent to violate the law or flagrant disregard of established rule or norms of public service,” read Graft Investigator Edsel Ensomo’s decision, which was approved by Deputy Ombudsman Pelagio Apostol.

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Prior to their dismissal, Apostol had suspended the three officials for six months without pay in February last year.

Apostol directed Mayor Michael Rama to implement the dismissal order and submit a compliance report.

‘Not yet final’

City Engineer Jose Marie Poblete, though, said Pua, Pasatiempo and Sison will continue to work at the DEPW.
“I would prefer for them to continue working as they occupy and perform critical positions in the DEPW hierarchy,” Poblete told Sun.Star Cebu.

He said the three officials are still entitled to other legal remedies and should be allowed to exhaust these before the ombudsman order is deemed final and executory.

“So I think the prudent and proper thing to do is to allow due process to take its course. We will just wait until this matter is resolved with finality,” he said.

The case stemmed from an administrative complaint filed by Montenegro, who accused Pua, Pasatiempo and Sison of asking for a computer and a camera for the City Engineer’s Office.

During the court hearing, Montenegro also accused the three officials of soliciting various items from him, including cash.

Fe & A Construction Services, which is owned by Montenegro, handled the stone masonry work in Sitio Riverside, Sanciangko St. and Barangay Pahina Central.

Montenegro said the engineers asked him to allow them to sub-contract one of his projects, using a dummy.

Demands

His firm received an order, dated January 23, 2012, suspending all contracted work under the City’s Project Cluster 4.

He said the engineers also refused to release the P150,000 retention money for a road-concreting project he implemented, even though he submitted a project completion report on June 11, 2012.

Two of his employees, Dionisio Parba and Mark Khem Aguilella, executed
a joint-affidavit supporting his complaint.

They said they saw the three officials demand a computer and a camera from the businessman.

Pua, Pasatiempo and Sison denied asking for or receiving cash, a computer unit or a high-end camera from Montenegro.

Defects

They also denied withholding Montenegro’s 10-percent retention money on the roadconcreting project, arguing that the money could not be released since the contractor’s project “had so many defects.”

Although a certification attesting the completion of project was issued, they said the City did not issue a separate certificate of acceptance.

The three officials also submitted the program of works and estimates, minutes of the pre-construction meeting, police blotter, letters and photos of the project for their defense.

Ensomo, though, found Montenegro’s complaint and his court testimony to be “credible and sincere.”

“Complainant, with witnesses, positively identified respondents to have solicited from him various items repeatedly in violation of the norms of public service while respondents were exercising their official functions,” he said. (GMD/With a report from JGA)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 30, 2014.

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