MANILA, Philippines – In less than a week, the Ombudsman announced the filing of a second graft case against former Caloocan City Mayor Enrico Echiverri, this time over P10 million worth of allegedly illegal projects.
In a press release, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said she had found probable cause to charge Echiverri with two counts of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act or Republic Act Number 3019).
Also charged with two counts of graft and falsification of public documents are former city accountant Edna Centeno and city budget officer Jesusa Garcia.
The Ombudsman’s investigators found that, in 2013, Caloocan under Echiverri undertook the improvement of the drainage system of Antipolo Street in Barangay 30 at a contract cost of P4.9million. Two years befor that, Echiverri also undertook the construction of a barangay hall in Barangay 154 at a project cost of P5.4million.
The Commission on Audit, however, issued Notices of Disallowance for the two projects in 2013. This was after it saw irregularities in the projects. There was no appropriation ordinance for the specific projects; neither was there an approval of the contracts by the city council.
“Without authority from the SP, Echiverri entered into [contracts] which constituted an unwarranted benefit and privilege granted to a private party,” Morales said.
“The COA correctly observed that the disbursements were illegal for lack of any specific prior authorization,” added Ombudsman Morales.
In an administrative case related to these contracts, Centeno and Garcia were found guilty of grave misconduct and would be perpetually disqualified from holding public office.
Under Section 3(e) of RA 3019, public officials are prohibited from causing any undue injury to any party, including the government, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence.
In late June, Ombudsman Morales also found probable cause to charge Echiverri with graft over an alleged anomalous P2.97-million drainage project in his city.
City accountant Cendeno and budget officer Garcia were also slapped with an information for graft and an additional charge of falsification of public documents in connection with the project. – Rappler.com