MWSS execs charged over alleged violation of FOI

Marje Pelayo   •   July 10, 2018   •   2684

QUEZON CITY, Philippines – Consumer group Water for All Movement has filed a complaint at the Office of the Ombudsman on Tuesday (July 10) against executive officials of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS).

Respondents to the case include Franklin Monteverde, the Chairman of the MWSS’ Board of Trustees and Reynaldo Velasco, MWSS Administrator.

The group claimed they requested for a copy of Maynilad and Manila Water’s rate rebasing record on July 7, 2017. But after more than a year, MWSS made no response to their request. The group alleged that MWSS violated Executive Order No. 2 or the Freedom of Information order.

“Magkano ba iyong total at mga ilang proyekto ba ang nakasaad sa business plan para maintindihan natin. Ilan ba iyong  P11 for Maynilad na gusto nilang increase at P8.30 for Manila Water? Hindi naman tayo pwedeng mag-usap na walang komputasyon o walang dokumento…Bakit itinago sa atin ito ng mahigit isang taon at tatlong araw to be exact,” said the group’s President Rodolfo Javellana.

The group noted that despite the public consultations held in June, the water concessionaires failed to present their respective computations for the imposed water rate adjustments. They claim that such concealment of records violate the rights of the public for information.

“Kapag ito ay hindi niya sinagot sa loob ng 15 araw, ito ay violation na ng Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007…Dapat ay mabilis din ang pagtalima nila sa mga request ng mamamayan. Subali’t sa ginawa nila ay binalewala ang sulat. Ito ay isa ring paglabag sa Code of Conduct for Government employees…Ito po iyong related sa Freedom of information na ang bawa’t Pilipino ay dapat mayroong access sa lahat ng impormasyon sa.lahat ng ahensya ng pamahalaan,” said the group’s legal counsel, Atty. Al Vitangcol.

The consumer group hopes that within the next three to four days, the Ombudsman will begin its investigation on the matter. – Aiko Miguel / Marje Pelayo

BSP assures execs facing graft raps before Ombudsman will answer in proper forum

Robie de Guzman   •   January 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) on Thursday assured that its officials who are facing graft complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman will respond in an appropriate forum.

The complaint, filed by Ricardo Fulgencio IV of Stop Corruption Organization of the Philippines, accused BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno and officials of central bank’s Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) of granting P1.75-billion contract to Allcard International sans public bidding for the implementation of the national identification system.

Aside from Diokno, Prudence Angelita Kasala, Rogel Joseph del Rosario, Carl Cesar Bibat, Marianne Santos, Salvador del Mundo, and Giovanni Israel Joson were also named as respondents to the complaint.

“As regards the complaint filed with the Ombudsman relative to the procurement for the printing of cards for the National ID System, rest assured that the BSP officials concerned will respond in the proper forum once required in accordance with applicable rules,” the BSP said in a statement.

Fulgencio said the bidding process for equipment and materials for the Philippine Identification cards was flawed because the BAC of the BSP Security Plant Complex, which is in charge of procuring materials for the cards, required all bidders to procure raw materials, such as diffractive optically variable image device (DOVID) and polycarbonate sheets, from OVD Kinegram.

The complainant said this requirement is prohibited by procurement laws as it shows a specific reference to a brand name.

“[The] respondents’ act of requiring the bidders to procure their raw materials from OVD Kinegram AG effectively gave the latter private party, unwarranted benefits. The respondents’ preference to Kinegram deprived other DOVID suppliers of the opportunity to bid for the project and robbed the government of getting the most advantageous terms for the supply of such raw materials,” the complaint read.

“Clearly, this is a corrupt practice. Henceforth, it is respectfully prayed before this Honorable Office that after the requisite preliminary investigation, criminal information against the herein respondents be filed before the Sandiganbayan,” it added.

Despite the complaint, the BSP said that it supports the rollout of the National ID as it is key to wider financial inclusion that promotes shared economic growth and the financial wellbeing of Filipinos.

Roque to ask Duterte on possibility of voluntarily disclosing SALN

Robie de Guzman   •   October 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday said he will ask President Rodrigo Duterte if he is willing to voluntarily release his statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALN) following the strict rules imposed by the Ombudsman on the access to the wealth declaration of officials.

Roque said the president’s office is just following the guidelines issued by the Ombudsman.

“Mag-uusap po kami ng ating president at para matapos na po itong issue na ito, ay tatanungin ko po baka naman po magbigay ng permiso ang president para isapubliko ang kaniyang SALN,” he said.

The Ombudsman recently issued a memorandum circular restricting access to the SALN of public officials.

The circular states that a copy of a public official’s SALN may only be released if the requestor is an authorized representative of the declarant or the person who filed the document; if there is a court order in relation to a pending case, and if the request is made by the Ombudsman’s field investigation units.

Prior to the issuance of the circular, Roque said Duterte had released his SALN yearly.

“Wala pong itinatago ang ating president, bago po maglabas ng ganitong guidelines ang Ombdusman, taon-taon naman po inilalabas ng president ang kaniyang SALN,” he said.

The question of whether Duterte will voluntarily publicize his own net worth resurfaced after the 2019 SALN of 24 senators were released by the Senate on Thursday. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

89 Punong Barangays nationwide suspended over SAP Tranche 1 anomalies — DILG

Maris Federez   •   September 12, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) has placed some 89 Punong Barangays (village chiefs) across the country on a six-month preventive suspension following the filing of complaints by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) against them for anomalies and irregularities involving the implementation of the first tranche of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP).

A statement released on Saturday (Sept. 12) said DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año has given out directives to the respective municipal/city mayors of these barangay heads “to immediately implement the order of the Office of the Ombudsman upon receipt while the DILG regional and field officers were directed to ensure the orderly implementation of the said mass suspension.”

Año thanked Ombudsman Samuel Martires for his immediate action on the complaints filed by the Department against the erring PBs.

The statement added that the suspension would serve as a stern warning to all local government units that the Department will not tolerate any wrong-doing on their part.

“Naway magsilbing babala ang suspensiyon na ito sa iba pang mga lokal na opisyales. Ang katiwalian ay walang puwang sa ating pamahalaan lalong-lalo pa ngayong panahon ng pandemya,” Año said.  

DILG cited the OMB Order dated September 2, 2020, which said that “the evidence on record shows that the guilt of these punong barangays is strong and the charges against them involve Serious Dishonesty, Grave Misconduct, Abuse of Authority and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service which may warrant removal from the service.”

DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said that the suspension of the 89 Punong Barangays is “the first such mass suspension in the history of the country.”

He added that such “is just the latest in a series of moves undertaken by the DILG to weed out corrupt officials in the implementation of the SAP.”

In relation to this, Malaya said that the PNP-CIDG has already filed criminal cases against 447 individuals for violations of RA 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act), RA 11469 (Bayanihan Act I), and RA 6713 (Code of Conduct of Government Officials and Employees), among others.

The DILG also reported that Region I, the National Capital Region, and Region II topped the list of with the most number of suspended PBs, while Cordillera Administrative Region and Caraga recorded the least number. Only Region XII has no suspended PBs among all regions. — /mbmf


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