Water admin chief dismissed for buying bank sans authority-A A +A
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
PROSPERO Pichay Jr., chairman of the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) board, was ordered dismissed Monday for grave misconduct in buying a bank without authority.
In a press statement, the Office of the Ombudsman has found "substantial evidence" that Pichay, LWUA acting administrator Daniel Landingin, deputy administrator Wilfredo Feleo, and lawyer Arnaldo Espinas illegally acquired the Express Savings Bank (EXSBI) without approval from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) or the Department of Finance (DOF).
"As such, the penalty [of] dismissal from service with the accessory penalties of perpetual disqualification from public office and forfeiture of all benefits is imposed upon them," the Ombudsman's office said.
Casimiro said Pichay authorized LWUA's investment in EXSBI without authorization from the Monetary Board of the BSP. The Office of the Government Corporate Counsel said the investment should have been reviewed by the Finance department before LWUA acquired the bank for P780 million.
Casimiro cited a letter from the DOF to BSP Deputy Governor Nestor Espenilla that said it found "such investment inconsistent with the thrusts and policies of the government."
According to its website, LWUA was created "to promote and oversee the development of water supply systems in provincial cities and municipalities outside of Metropolitan Manila."
The purchase of the bank was approved by the Office of the President in October 2009, "four months after LWUA had already acquired the bank," the Office of the Ombudsman noted.
Pichay, in a television interview, said he was not surprised with the development.
"I expected this. They (have) been busy filing cases against former Cabinet members of the previous administration," he said.
He said the case against him had no legal basis and that he would question the dismissal order "for grave abuse of discretion."
In May, Casimiro ordered charges against Pichay and put him under preventive suspension.
Noting that evidence of Pichay's guilt was strong, and that he will be removed from service if found guilty, Casimiro said it was "very likely" that he would tamper with that evidence.
Letting him stay on as LWUA board chairman would let him intimidate witnesses or destroy records "that might be vital to the case against him," the order read.
Former ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez earlier denied a petition from LWUA employees to have Pichay suspended.
The move was seen as an effort to shield Pichay, an ally of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, from the case. (Jonathan de Santos/Sunnex)