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P200M Bohol Dam Scandal Case Dismissed by Court
« on: August 26, 2008, 05:59:48 PM »
By Kit Bagaipo, Bohol Chronicle

Five officials of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) were cleared of graft charges by the Ombudsman in relation to the alleged anomalous construction of the Talibon Small Reservoir Impounding Project (TSRIP).

The dismissal of the case came two years after a NIA Fact Finding Team evaluation report found prima facie
evidence against the respondents for irregularities in the implementation of the questioned project.

Named respondents were Regional Irrigation Manager Alexander Reuyan, Bohol Provincial Irrigation Officer Calixto Seroje, NIA regional finance manager Jesusa Sibonga, Small Reservoir Irrigation project officer Eduardo Daniel and senior accountant Victor Echavez.

The case stemmed from a complaint filed by the Boholanos Against Corruption, Oppresssion and Social Harassment (Bacosh) represented by former NIA project manager Petronilo Sarigumba.

Sarigumba alleged in the complaint that P165 million have been released and exhausted for the project when at least three audit reports in 1998 showed the project to be only 50% completed.

The approved total project cost is P243 million based on a revised program of works approved by the NIA in April 2000.

The 24-page resolution, signed by acting Ombudsman Orlando Casimiro last June 26 2008, dismissed the charges "for lack of substantial legal basis".         

The resolution, which was prepared by Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer Sarah Jo Vergara since June 2006, dealt on the purported misappropriation of funds in the project implementation.

Based on the NIA Fact Finding Team report, the project was said to be questionable due to the fact that there were varying amounts of expenditures reported by the project field office, the provincial management office and the regional office.

According to the Ombudsman resolution, it "sees that the variance does not actually prove that there are unaccounted funds…"

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