Western Visayas ex-DPWH execs get 8 years for graft
Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - August 18, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Five former officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in Western Visayas have been sentenced to up to eight years in prison over the anomalous award of a contract for the improvement of a diversion road in Iloilo in 2008.

Berna Coca, former DPWH-Region 6 bids and awards committee chairperson, and BAC members Luzviminda Narciso, Danilo Peroy, Marilyn Celiz and Fernando Tuares were found guilty of violating Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, the Sandiganbayan’s Sixth Division said in a 73-page decision promulgated recently.

The anti-graft court also ordered the  perpetual disqualification from holding public office and forfeiture of the retirement benefits of the former DPWH officials.

The sixth division had earlier dismissed the case against the principal accused, former DPWH regional director Rolando Asis, due to his death on July 6, 2017.

The case stemmed from the award of a contract to International Builder’s Corp. for overlaying asphalt on the Iloilo-Jaro diversion road without public bidding and despite lack of a budget.

“Matters arising from the allegedly substandard and overpriced asphalt overlay are collateral particulars. Considering that the ocular inspection of the roadworks was conducted one year after its completion... it was impractical to ascertain if the... project measured up to engineering standards and value-for-money,” the court said.

“Instead of being sidetracked, attention must focus on hard evidence showing that the asphalt overlay project was implemented despite glaring deficiencies,” it said.

The court cited the lack of certificate of availability of funds, non-release of allotment, non-inclusion of the project in the annual procurement plan, lack of notice of award and notice to proceed as well as non-compliance with the conditions for negotiated procurement under Republic Act 9184 and its implementing rules and regulations.

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