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Ombudsman sacks BFAR chief for graft

Bella Cariaso - The Philippine Star
Ombudsman sacks BFAR chief for graft
Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) director Demosthenes Escoto was dismissed after he was found guilty of grave misconduct in a graft case arising from BFAR procurement of communication equipment in 2018.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Ombudsman Samuel Martires has dismissed Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) director Demosthenes Escoto, Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu-Laurel Jr. confirmed yesterday.

Escoto was dismissed after he was found guilty of grave misconduct in a graft case arising from BFAR procurement of communication equipment in 2018.

Tiu-Laurel announced the appointment of Isidro Velayo Jr. as officer-in-charge of BFAR after receiving the ombudsman’s order against Escoto.

“OIC Isidro Velayo, director IV and assistant director for technical services, is a career professional and respected official of BFAR. My marching order to him is to ensure that operations of the agency will not be affected by this legal development,” he said.

Tiu-Laurel added that the ombudsman directed him to implement the order.

He said Escoto could still seek reconsideration of the ombudsman’s decision or directly appeal the decision to the Court of Appeals.

Velayo was a former national coordinator of BFAR’s seaweed program and previously the regional director for the Zamboanga peninsula.

The dismissal order against Escoto stemmed from a complaint filed by lawyer James Mier Victoriano, in connection with the alleged irregularities in the awarding of a P2.097-billion contract to British company SRT Marine Systems Solutions Ltd. - United Kingdom in 2018.

The contract was for the supply of vessel monitoring system transmitters and transceivers, a vital component for the implementation of the BFAR’s Integrated Marine Environment Monitoring System Project Phase II.

The project aimed to improve BFAR’s ability to fulfill its mandate of safeguarding and monitoring the country’s maritime resources by requiring all commercial fishing vessels to install a monitoring system that would show their location at sea. – Elizabeth Marcelo

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