Lawmaker, 10 others indicted over P60M Tesda scam

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Friday, March 15, 2013


THE Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the filing of criminal charges against Iloilo’s second district Representative Augusto Boboy Syjuco, then director general of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda), and 10 others over irregularities in Tesda projects.

Syjuco’s co-respondents include former Tesda executive Buen Mondejar, a private individual, Quezon City businessman Vicente Roxas of V.G. Roxas Co. Inc., Tesda Deputy Director General Rogelio Peyuan, Director IV Antonio Del Rosario, Director IV Ernesto Beltran, Director IV Teodoro Sanico, Chief Administrative Officer Juanito Belda, Senior Administrative Assistant I Francisco Fang, and Administrative Officer I Maximiano Montemayor.

The Ombudsman, in indicting Syjuco and company, resolved two principal issues on a Tesda procurement established to have been overpriced by at least P60.9 million.

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The first issue was on the undue injury to government - criminal in nature, and second, the administrative aspect on serious dishonesty, grave misconduct, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service and gross neglect of duty.

Both issues were the offshoot of what the Commission on Audit (COA) uncovered and questioned for numerous irregularities.

Examples of the overpriced items were an incubator jar paid for by Tesda at P15,375 each but upon COA check only bore a price tag of P149 only, and a hatching bucket paid for by Tesda at cost P43,750 each but in reality, had P900 as price tag.

There was also the dough cutter paid for by Tesda at P48,507.46 but upon canvass and previous purchase was only P120. In totality, validated as overprice for said transaction was P60,964,195.38.

Worse yet were over P70 million in training equipment and testing tools that were unutilized because Tesda had no corresponding training courses designed for its use.

There was also the matter of poor quality and substandard state of the tools and equipment noted by COA “mostly gathering dust, while some were destroyed by rodents, and stored in disarray in stock rooms or still found in their original boxes, resulting in wastage of government resources amounting to P70,962,614.24.”

Syjuco, in his defense, maintained innocence on the questioned dealings, saying he was merely acting on the recommendation of the Tesda board and that his right for due process was violated.

The rest of the respondents had similar claims of innocence except Mondejar, who apparently failed to file a counter-affidavit.

In the end, the Ombudsman was unperturbed by the justifications and ruled that “after a considered evaluation of the evidence on record, the office finds prima facie evidence to indict the respondents of violation of Section 3(e) and (g) of RA No. 3019.”

This, as the anti-graft body stated how “circumstances clearly show that those involved in the transactions, be it pre or post, did not lift a finger to stop the award and/or consummation. Instead, every participant played his specific role to make it appear that all the transactions were regular and aboveboard. Thus, without the participation of each of them, the whole process would have not been completed.”

The court upheld the same findings on the supplier-private respondent.

“In fine, respondents’ individual acts, manifest from their acts before, during and after the transactions, are indicative of a common design, concerted action and concurrence of sentiments amounting to conspiracy, Once therefore, conspiracy or action in concert to achieve a criminal design is shown, the act of one is the act of all the conspirators and the precise extent or modality of participation of each of them becomes secondary,” excerpts of the 52-paged Consolidated Resolution went.

As such, three counts of violation of Section 3(e) of RA 3019 and three counts of violation of Section 3 (g) of RA 3019 were ordered against Syjuco, Peyuan, Del Rosario, Beltran, Sanico, Mondejar, Docdocil, Belda, Montemayor, Fang and Roxas.

Guilty verdict too was made on Syjuco, Peyuan, Beltran, Sanico, Mondejar, Belda, Fang and Montemayor on the administrative charges that found liable of serious dishonesty, grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.

The administrative charges meted them a penalty of dismissal from service with accessory penalties of cancellation of their eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits and perpetual disqualification from holding public office.

Syjuco has since left Tesda and won back his congressional post in the second district of Iloilo while Mondejar resigned in 2012, thus the alternative penalty of “fine equivalent to one year salary of each respondent…with the same accessory penalties thereof.”

Cleared of the charges in the same case were Guillermina Aguilar, Annabelle Quimbo and businessman Lyndon Ang for insufficient evidence.

Charges were dropped too against Adorinda De Jesus Forro likewise for lack of evidence and in view of her passing.

With the indictment is the filing of information with the Sandiganbayan alongside the issuance of arrest warrants and travel restrictions. The charges carry corresponding bailbond.

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