9 PNR execs axed over P53.8-M wood procurement anomaly

Michael Punongbayan - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – The Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the dismissal from government service of nine officials of the Philippine National Railways for their alleged involvement in the anomalous procurement of substandard wood worth P53.837 million used by the PNR for railroad tracks in 2013.

Former PNR general manager Junio Norberto Ragrario, department managers Estelito Aguila Nierva and Ruben Arsenue Besmonte, lawyer Neofito Cuison Perilla; division managers Rosendo Cea Calleja and Abdul Aziz Mapandi Pangandaman, assistant department manager Divina Gracia Duran Dantes, and engineers Cesar Lasquite Bocanog and Mario Dator Arias were found guilty of grave misconduct.

PNR managers Edwin Quia Balong-angey and Jane Ringor Balong-angey and senior property officer Jesus Llona Lusitano were suspended for three months without pay for simple neglect of duty.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said graft investigation and prosecution officer Leilani Tagulao-Marquez and director Nellie Boguen-Golez found the PNR officials guilty of administrative offenses.

The anti-graft agency said the PNR board of directors approved the bidding for the multimillion-peso project in 2011.

Ombudsman prosecutors said the PNR officials allowed the private firm Nikka Trading to supply Larch wood imported from Jiangsu, China for the PNR rehabilitation project from Calamba to Bicol.

Investigation showed that the PNR bids and awards committee (BAC) specifically required Yakal wood for the procurement of bridge, joint and switch ties worth P9.951 million in one transaction, and P43.886 million in another contract.

The ombudsman said the Commission on Audit questioned the validity of the contracts and issued notices of disallowances after finding out that the PNR purchased another type of wood.

“Nikka submitted its bid for the supply of Larch wood, which is not in compliance with the bidding requirement,” the decision read.

The PNR officials argued that the government saved P4 million by acquiring Larch wood instead of Yakal.

The ombudsman junked the administrative case filed against division manager Gilbert Jamilano Patulot for lack of evidence.

Former assistant general manager Rafael Faunal Mosura Jr., chief corporate lawyer Tareeq Yahaya Timhar Anduhol Radjaie and former legal officer Paolo Emmanuel Ramiro were cleared since they were no longer in government service when the complaint was filed in October 2014.


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