Echiverri seeks dismissal of new graft raps

Elizabeth Marcelo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Former Caloocan City mayor Enrico Echiverri has urged the Sandiganbayan to dismiss the new batch of graft cases lodged against him by the Office of the Ombudsman, claiming that there were no evidence to support the charges.

In two separate joint motions filed before the Sandiganbayan’s Seventh Division, Echiverri and his co-accused, former city accountant Edna Centeno and former city budget officer Jesusa Garcia, prayed for the dismissal of two graft cases.

Centeno and Garcia also prayed for the dismissal of their separate cases of falsification of public documents. 

The cases stemmed from the allegedly anomalous awarding of contracts for drainage projects in 2012 and 2013 during Echiverri’s term as mayor.

The respondents also prayed to the court to hold in abeyance the issuance of arrest order against them pending the resolution of their motion.

Based on the information of the cases, Echiverri, in conspiracy with Centeno and Garcia, awarded in June 2012 a contract amounting P1.513 million to E.V. & E Construction for the improvement of a pathwalk and drainage system at Villa C.C.O. in La Loma, Barangay 178.

The ombudsman said another contract worth P3.174 million was awarded to P.B. Grey Construction in January 2013 for improvements of a drainage along Apostol St. and G. Del Pilar street and alleys at Barangay 65.

The ombudsman alleged that the contracts were awarded without the required prior authorization of the Sangguniang Panlungsod or city council in violation of the Local Government Code.

The ombudsman said Centeno and Garcia falsified Allotment and Obligation Slips to make it appear that the city council allocated budgets for the projects “when in truth and in fact, as the accused very well knew, there was no appropriation for the said projects.”In their motion, the respondents maintained that projects were approved by the city council as shown by City Ordinance 0468 passed by the council in 2010.

The respondents said attached in the approved city ordinance was a 292-page Annual Executive Budget indicating the allocation for “statutory and contractual obligations” of the city. The respondents said the budgets for the drainage improvement projects were listed in the AEB.

The respondents said there were also a memorandum of agreement, allotment and obligation slips, Bids and Awards Committee resolution, notices of awards, notices to proceed, checks and bank statements which all show “that the assailed contracts were entered into in a regular manner” pursuant to Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act.

The cases before the Seventh Division were part of the second batch of charges filed by the ombudsman against Echiverri, Centeno and Garcia.

Prior to that, the ombudsman also charged them with graft on March 7 for alleged anomalous awarding of P4.713 million contracts for two drainage projects.


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