CA affirms 18 Palawan execs' dismissal over P2.57 billion Malampaya funds misuse - The Daily Sentry

Sunday, September 2, 2018

CA affirms 18 Palawan execs' dismissal over P2.57 billion Malampaya funds misuse

Photo from the Philippine News Agency

Manila, Philippines – Another set of government workers in Palawan were sacked over billions worth of anomalies involving Malampaya funds.

The Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed the dismissal of 18 employees of the Palawan provincial government in connection with the anomalous use of the province's share of Malampaya funds amounting to PHP2.57 billion.

According to the 33-page decision penned by Associate Justice Mario V. Lopez and concurred by Associate Justices Victoria Isabel Paredes and Maria Elisa Sempio Diy dated August 3, the CA’s Seventeenth Division upheld the Office of the Ombudsman’s Nov. 21, 2014 decision ordering the respondents' dismissal from the service.

The following individuals were covered by the Ombudsman’s ruling:

 Ronelo del Socorro, Senior Technical Audit Specialist; Edwin Iglesia, State Auditor II; Romeo Llacuna, Engineer III; Bernard Zambales, Engineer III; Ferdinand Dilig, Provincial General Services Officer; Luis Marcaida, Provincial Budget Officer; Rolando Bonoan Jr., Sangguniang Panlalawigan member; Samuel Madamba II, Former Provincial Planning and Development Coordinator; Orlando Colobong, Provincial Accountant; Renato Abrina, Engineer IV; Manuela Cabiguen, Assistant Provincial Engineer-Administration/Inspectorate Team Leader; Federico Rubio, Jr., Assistant Provincial Engineer-Operation/Inspectorate Team Leader; Rosario Pascual-Abacial, Engineer II; Pedro Gatinga, Jr., Engineer IV; Tommy Panes, Engineer II; Bayani Buenaventura, Engineer III; Pepe Martinez Patacsil, Engineer IV; and Alfredo Padua, Engineer IV/Chief, Quality Control Division.
Furthermore, their dismissal also calls for cancellation of their eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits, and perpetual disqualification from holding public office and taking civil service examinations.

Meanwhile, the CA also upheld the anti-graft office's decision clearing Elena Rodriguez, former provincial legal officer, of charges due to to the failure of complainant Commission on Audit (COA) Chairperson Ma. Gracia Pulido-Tan to appeal the dismissal of the charges.*

“Given the finality of the consolidated decision with respect to Elena, the September 13, 2016 order reversing the decision and penalizing Elena for grave misconduct, serious dishonest and gross neglect of duty is erroneous,” the CA said

The appellate court did not give merit to the claim of the respondents that the investigation of the Ombudsman was premature since under COA’s Rules and Regulation on Settlement of Accounts, an audit report should be followed by notices of disallowances (NDs) which may be appealed within six months.

However, the respondents also noted that even before the NDs were issued, the Ombudsman already conducted an investigation against them.

But, the CA reiterated that under the Ombudsman Act of 1989, the agency can perform its own investigation and prosecution, on or by any person, any illegal or improper action of any public officer or employee.

“Thus, the Ombudsman may undertake its own preliminary investigation and give due course to the complaint against petitioners even before the issuance of the notices of disallowance or final audit report by COA,” the CA explained

Due to the failure of COA to properly inform them of the charges, the CA did not give merit to respondents’ claim that they were deprived of due process.*

The CA also did not give weight to the claim of the respondents that the findings of the Ombudsman were not supported by substantial evidence.

It was also pointed out by the CA the presence of sufficient evidence showing that the respondents repeatedly bloated their accomplishment reports that cost government millions of pesos in advance payments to undeserving contractors.

“Petitioners cannot hide that these are simple errors but indicative of their dispositions to lie and cheat,” the CA cited

“The petitioners deliberately disregarded the duty to observe the standard procedure required of them as public officials, revealing their depraved motives. Furthermore, their acts indicate the predisposition to lie and cheat,” it added

Just last August, President Rodrigo Duterte fired all board members of the Nayong Pilipino Foundation (NPF) for green-lighting a lease deal "grossly disadvantageous" to the government.

Entire Nayong Pilipino board dismissed due to anomalies / photo by Philstar (ctto)

 Source: PNA