Ombudsman sacrificed 17 DPWH execs to get FG, Ebdane off the hook, says militant group

Ombudsman sacrificed 17 DPWH execs to get FG, Ebdane off the hook, says militant group

The 17 officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) who were named in the charge sheet of the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the alleged anomalies regarding World Bank-funded road projects were made as sacrificial lambs to get First Gentleman Atty. Jose Miguel Arroyo and public works secretary Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. off the hook.

“This is ridiculous, outrageous and a grand design for one of the biggest cover ups of the 21st century. Where is the Ombudsman’s sense of truth and objectivity here? This anti-graft office is setting the stage for another major whitewash, nothing more, nothing less,” the militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said in a press statement.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said the charging of 17 DPWH officials minus the alleged principals—the president’s husband Atty. Arroyo and Secretary Ebdane, is nothing but a political masquerade.

“The Filipino public will not buy the idea that Atty. Arroyo and Secretary Ebdane were not part of the collusion in orchestrating corruption in the Arroyo bureaucracy. The people are not born yesterday not to understand this well-placed syndicate and mafia operating in and out of Malacañang and in and out of the public works portfolio,” he added.

The Pamalakaya leader said the Filipino public is expecting the Office of the Ombudsman to absolve the First Gentleman and Secretary Ebdane from this large-scale act of corruption in the Macapagal-Arroyo government.

“The taxpaying public is convinced the Office of the Ombudsman will not touch the untouchables and it will just go after the starlets and bit players in the DPWH. The Filipino taxpayers are correct, because the Ombudsman decided to drop the presidential husband and Secretary Ebdane from the charge sheet and from the horror roll,” added Hicap.

However, Pamalakaya appealed to the 17 DPWH officials named in the charge sheet of the Office of the Ombudsman to tell all and reveal the involvement of First Gentleman and the public works secretary on alleged anomalies in foreign and national government funded projects.
“Bare all and tell all. The truth will set them free. That should be their political motto once they face the probers of the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with this case and other anomalies involving the top honchos in Malacañang. This is their time to redeem themselves and become the people’s witnesses against this regime of greed,” the militant group added.

The Office of the Ombudsman’s Field Investigation Office (FIO) on Wednesday recommended the conduct of a preliminary investigation to determine if graft charges could be filed against 17 officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways being linked to the allegedly anomalous World Bank-funded road projects.

Assistant Ombudsman Mark Jalandoni, head of the FIO, named those who should be investigated include former DPWH secretary Florante Soriquez, current undersecretary Manuel Bonoan, and assistant secretaries Bashir Rasuman, Salvador Pleytol and Juanito Abergas.

Jalandoni said the FIO pushed for a preliminary investigation on Soriquez because he approved the results of the bidding. He said Bonoan also has to undergo probe because he was the chairman of the DPWH-BAC for Visayas and Mindanao projects, as well as Rasuman because he was BAC chair for Mindanao.

The Office of the Ombudsman also recommended the investigation on Mocamad Raki-in Sr., vice-chairman for the Mindanao area; Rafael Yabut, vice chairman for operations for Area III; BAC members Emerson Benitez, project manager lll and head of the BAC-Technical Working Group; Baliame Mamainte, project director of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development-Project Management Office (IBRD); Lope Adriano, project director for the IBRD-PMOP; and Atty. Joel Jacob, officer-in-charge of Legal Service.

Others are Camilo Foronda, OIC for Legal Service; Director Antonio Molano, Jr. of the Bureau of Research and Standards; Leonora Cuenca, OIC of the Comptrollership and Financial Management Services; Director Walter Ocampo of the Bureau of Construction, all BAC members and Florencio Aricheta, representative from National Constructors Association of the Philippines and the Philippine Construction Association.

If there is probable cause, the officials could be charged for violating Section 3 (e) and (i) of Republic Act 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices); and Section 4A (a) and (b) of RA No. 6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Government Officials and Employees).

They could also be charged with administrative cases of grave misconduct, dishonesty, conduct prejudicial to the interest of the service and neglect of duty. #

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