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NIA Bohol Official Suspended
« on: June 22, 2009, 11:30:44 PM »
By the Bohol Chronicle

The Ombudsman has released another decision on the charges of alleged anomalies in the construction of a multi-million irrigation project in Talibon town.

The decision, a copy of which was obtained by one of the main complainants of the case, Engr. Petronilo Sarigumba, still cleared five officials of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) but meted a one-month suspension against Provincial Irrigation Officer Engr. Calixto Seroje.

What came as a surprise to Sarigumba however is the similar content of the decision released in November last year with the same date and signatories – that of Graft Investigator Sarah Jo Vergara, Director Edgardo Canton and Visayas Ombudsman Virginia Palanca-Santiago.

The 25-page resolution, signed by Deputy Ombudsman Orlando Casimiro on November 11, 2008 but released only recently, dismissed the charges “for lack of substantial legal basis.”

What was changed from the first resolution is that Seroje, one of the five charged in the complaint, is “found administratively guilty of simple misconduct and meted the penalty of suspension for a period of one month and one day without pay and benefits…”

Seroje is likewise warned by the Ombudsman that a repetition of a similar infraction in the future “shall be dealt with more severely”.

Efforts to contact Seroje proved futile until press time.

Also cleared were NIA regional manager Alexander Reuyan, NIA regional finance manager Jesusa Sibonga, small reservoir irrigation project officer Eduardo Daniel and senior accountant Victor Echavez.

Reuyan, now NIA director of Region 5, was given a reprimand by the Ombudsman for violation of reasonable office rules and regulations. Daniel and Echavez have been retired from service.

The case stemmed from a complaint filed on October 27, 2004, at the Ombudsman by the Boholanos Against Corruption, Oppression and Social Harassment (Bacos), which said P165 million had been released for the Talibon Small Reservoir Impounding Project (SRIP) although only half of it was completed.

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

The dismissal of the case came more than two years after a NIA fact-finding team found prima facie evidence against the respondents for irregularities in the implementation of the project.

They had maintained that varying amounts of expenditures were reported by the project field office, the provincial management office and the regional office of NIA.

But the Ombudsman, in its resolution, said it “sees that the variance does not actually prove that there were unaccounted funds.”

“The figures submitted by the three offices actually cover expenditures incurred by different offices over different periods of time,” it pointed out.

It noted that the fact-finding team failed to show circumstances that could single out suspicious dealings.

In the absence of “substantial difference” in the valuation of work accomplishment as assessed by different officials or offices, the varying costs of certain component works are “nothing more than explainable or traceable discrepancies,” the ruling cited.

“This [deviation] cannot possibly imply outright that an offense has been committed,” the Ombudsman pointed out.

It maintained that the actual impact of the deviations ascertained by the NIA fact-finding team could not be assessed yet since the Talibon SRIP had not yet been completed and the Commission on Audit had yet to conduct a post audit on the project’s finances.

BACOSH REACTION

Sarigumba who initiated the filing of the cases against Seroje et al at the Ombudsman decried the decision as "mercenary on the part of the Ombudsman. If there was the merit in the case, why was Seroje meted the penalty. But the lightness of the penalty is what we find unbelievable, to say the least."

The group will elevate the case to Manila-based Anti-Corruption Alliance made up of different anti-corruption bodies to find solidarity and advice as to where to seek justice on the Talibon-SRIP.

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benelynne

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Re: NIA Bohol Official Suspended
« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2009, 04:54:23 PM »

Given the millions in taxpayers' money involved, this is just a slap on the wrist. Ug in-ani ka watered-down ang decision, gipa-dive na lang unta ni Provincial Irrigation Officer Engr. Calixto Seroje sa dam aron at least klarong basa siya.


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olintaha

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Re: NIA Bohol Official Suspended
« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2009, 08:43:14 PM »
Mao ni kahibulongan.
Apan dunay bodegero sa NFA in Cebu gi convict sa Ombudsman.  Ang sentence is dismissal from service with forfeiture of retirement benefits, and perpetual disqualification from reemployment in the government service.  Ang iyang atraso is shortage of about 500 empty sacks.

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Re: NIA Bohol Official Suspended
« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2009, 09:57:38 AM »
Attorney,

Murag guba man tingala ang timbangan sa hustisya sa ato. Dili proporsyon ang mga sentensya sa kabug-aton sa sala.


olintaha

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Re: NIA Bohol Official Suspended
« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2009, 07:52:16 PM »
The Ombudsman has become "graft coddler" instead of graft buster.
This office should be dissolved. 


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Re: NIA Bohol Official Suspended
« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2009, 07:15:30 AM »
I agree with you Atty. Last JUne , I went to the Ombudsman in  Davao city . I saw many employees reading newspapers. parang walang trabajo.
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