In the ORDER dated October, 19, 2001 ,Deputy OMBUDSMAN Ernesto M. Nocos, for Luzon, directed DPWH Engineers, Fernando S. Cruz, Loenardo G. Quinton, Paciano M.Cawaling, Francisco P. Lopez and Noel M. Morales, to answer within 10 days, a Complaint docketed # OMB - 1-01-0913-j, for violation of Republic Act Number 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft Law or the prohibited acts for Government officials.
Ms Higina B. Ocampo, the complainant. told Romblon Today, that she expects a Suspension Order, againts DPWH Engineers as soon as the case is file with the Sandigan bayan, based on the gravity of the offense. With the voluminous evidence and documents she has presented to the Ombudsman, Ms.Ocampo said, "I could substantiate the complaint to place the erring Engineers behind bars".
Engr. Cruz is the successor and Officer In Charge (OIC) of the District Office, when the former District Engr. Melvin S. Minano, succumbed to heart failure last August 16, 2001. Engr. Cruz however, was soon relieved of his post and detailed without assignment in the region, allegedly, due to reports of corruption and quiestionable deals worth millions of pesos during his time, in the province. The remaining defendants, namely, Engrs. Leonardo Quinton, Maintenance Chief; Paciano Cawaling, Construction Chief; Francisco Lopez, Chief Quality Control and Testing Material; and the Project Engr. Noel Morales, were able to retain their respective positions, pending the resolution of the criminal complaint before the Ombudsman.
It will be recalled that sometime in the month of August last year, the DPWH represented by Engr. Cruz, Engr. Quinton and Accountant III, Josefina de Asis, without conducting the pre-qualification and bidding process "according to the rules", awarded a contract worth P2,604,295.76 for a Flood Control Repair and Maintenance Projects to RUBY LIM CONSTRUCTION, discovered later on, to be "ghost projects".
Allegedly, on the behest of OIC Cruz, the amount of P1,258,706.62 was released by Accountant Josefina de Asis, for the payment among others, of the Agnipa, Cambajao, Cantingas, etc., River Control Projects, to a payee, allegedly with a Special Power of Attorney from Ms. Ruby Lim, on the basis of a Certification or Monthly Status Report of the project engineer, named Noel Morales, together with the so-called Report of the Inspectorate Team composed of Engs. Francisco Lopez, Paciano Cawaling, Ruthenia F. Real and Leonardo G. Quinton, "reports that were manufactured in the confines of their offices", according to an informant in the DPWH.
The complaint for violation of R.A. NO. 3019, also contain allegations, that the Engineers, in cahoots with themselves and personnel in the DPWH, falsified their reports, documents and signatures of persons, in order to collect payments for the construction, repair and maintenance of projects that were non-existent, when payments were made.
As a matter of defense, Respondents Quinton, Cawaling, et al., maifested in their Joint Counter-Affidavit, that the complainant Higina B. Ocampo "was merely motivated by ill-will and personal resentment, and concocted lies and fabricated charges by resorting to false pretense and empty misrepresentations againts the respondents". Part of the answer to counter the accusation was to say, "Ms. Ocampo was pointing to the wrong site and she was not aware, that the good Governor Leandro Jesus Madrona has requested that the works be started at the area fronting Romblon National High School", and not at the subject location as specified in the contract, where Ms. Ocampo claimed and photographed as her exhibits.
Quinton et al., stated further more, that "when the Barangay Captain, Virgilio M. Muyo learned that it was started at the RNHS area, he executed a Certification of Acceptance on October 10, 2001", now the subject of "talks" among local folk.
Barangay Captain Muyo, ealier, executed under oath, a damaging Affidavit on September 11,2001, in favor of Ms. Ocampo, saying, "as Brgy. Captain of Agnipa, I follow-up gov't projects in the barangay; 'that the Repair/Maintenance of Agnipa River Control Projects has not been started yet as ofthis date, but upon inquiry, the Ruby Lim Construction and Trading, had already collected (P169,242.55) One Hundred Sixty Nine Thousand and Two Hundred Forty Two Pesos and Fifty Five centavos, on an alleged accomplishment report of 90.77%.
In additon to the defense of Quinton et al., they stated that "Brgy. Captain Jorge Ramos was confused and has no knowledge of the two projects to be implemented in his Barangay. Project Engr. Noel Morales instead "met Mayor Nicasio Ramos, for they failed to contact Jorge Ramos". The respondent Engineers even attached in their Joint Counter-Affidavit, the Certificaton of Acceptance of Mayor Nicasio M. Ramos, and Jorge Ramos, dated October 30, 2001, contradicting his earlier sworn statement dated September 11, 2001, to bolster the side of the defense.
Complainant Ocampo has remained confident and not bothered a bit when interviewed by the staff of Romblon Today(RT) concerning Joint Counter-Affidavit of the DPWH Engineers. Doctora Ocampo, as she is fondly called, said, "the possible turning around of Brgy. Captain Muyo and Ramos was due to unbearable pressure exerted to them by some influential personages, but in doing so, Mr. Nuyo and Ramos will be oblivious of the fact that they already perjured themselves, since an earlier Sworn Statement has been executed "that the amount of P169,242.55 and P184,790.20 were paid to the alleged projects in Brgys. Agnipa and Cambajao, though the projects has not been started yet".
Ms. Ocampo also said that "the existence of the scam is already boosted by the Sworn Statements, the government records, fake documents, specimens of signatures and many other evidence, in the possession, notwithstanding the unremitting efforts of those involved and their protectors, to cover-up the crime for their own sake. The evidence can speak by itself". Beside all these, the Internal Audit of DPWH in Central Office, headed by Engr. George Suy and Assistant Lalaine Cuisin, submitted a negative report when the team found no existing Flood Control Project in Brgy. Cambajao, in Cajidiocan, during their inspection on September 8, 2001. Mrs. Gloria Navasea, another member of the Internal Audit likewise discovered the irregularity of Mrs. Josefina de Asis, the Accountant, when the later issued payments for the contested project, even if some requirements, such as the pictures of the project, volume computations, etc. are still lacking.
According to vigilant group now functioning like plunder watch in Odiongan, Romblon, the alleged Contract, between Cruz, et al, and Ruby Lim Construction, is just one among the many so called. "for the Boy's Contracts" in the agency. They say, "it is quite impossible for Ms. Ruby Lim to have entered into a "signing contract" with the DPWH on the 17th day of August 2001, when Ms. Lim was in the United States of America". It is also impossible for her to receive pyments if she was in the States, but seems to have acknowledge receipts of payments on August 31, 2001 and September 6, 2001, respectively. Her name was forged by an impostor presumably hired by the mastermind".
As borne out by records obtained from the Bureau of Immigration Office, Ms. Ruby Lim boarded Philippine Airlines Flight #102, on June 14, 2001 for the USA and returned to the Philippines on September 27, 2001, via Philippine Airlines, Flight #103. Said "Agreement" is spurious, they say. Ms. Ruby Lim thru an emissary told RT her intent to testify in favor of complainant Ocampo. Accordingly, Ms. Lim said, I will formally disown the alleged signature appearing in the 'contract' once summoned by the graft Court".
A surprise witness, named Gilbert Abelita, the project Engineer of Ruby Lim Construction, will also testify, in relation to his purported signature above his name, in the so-called Contractors Statement of Accomplishment. Engr. Abelita said, "it was a forged signature" when shown a copy of report" and insisted, "I never signed said Contractors Report, knowing fully well that Ruby Lim Construction company has no existing contract about Flood Control projects in Tablas, Romblon and Sibuyan islands" at that time.(RT STAFF)