MANILA, Philippines – Former Caloocan City mayor Enrico “Recom” Echiverri posted a P15,000-bail for one count of graft over an irregular drainage project in 2011 when he was still Caloocan mayor.
Echiverri went to the Sandiganbayan on Thursday, March 23, to attend a court hearing on his urgent motion to dismiss the case. However, he was informed that the anti-graft court’s third division had already issued a warrant of arrest against him and his co-accused, former city accountant Edna Centeno and former budget officer Jesus Garcia.
The court’s sheriff had to enforce the warrant of arrest against the 3 in the Sandiganbayan premises. They were held inside the office of the third division clerk of court for a couple of hours until they were able to post their respective bails.
The charges against Echiverri and his former city officials were filed on March 7. It was for two counts of graft over two drainage projects worth a total of P4.7 million. Echiverri and the city officials were held liable for awarding the contracts without authorization from the Sangguniang Panlungsod.
The first case involving the P1.96-million drainage project at the Amparo Subdivision in Barangay 179 with contractor 3T Construction was raffled off to the third division. It’s the division that enforced the warrant on Thursday.
The second case involving the P2.75-million drainage project at the Pleasant View Subdivision in Barangay 165 with contractor EV & E Construction (EVEC) was raffled off to the second division. They are yet to issue a warrant of arrest.
Prosecutors set bail at P30,000 for one count of graft each, but the court granted the request of the accused for a 50% discount. The court sometimes grants bail discounts under special circumstances such as low income and a demonstrated willingness to cooperate with the court.
Echiverri posted his bail worth P15,000, while Centeno and Garcia paid P21,000 each. Centeno and Garcia were faced with separate charges of falsification of documents, the bail for which was originally P12,000. This was slashed to just P6,000.
Echiverri, Centeno, and Garcia were set free around 5:30 pm on Thursday.
Echiverri maintains that the cases against them should be dismissed, saying that there are no grounds for criminal charges because the Commission on Audit (COA) issued only a notice of disallowance then.
“Walang findings ang COA na iligal ang project namin, na kumita ako, walang ganun. Ang findings lang ay hindi effective ang ordinansa,” Echiverri said.
(The COA didn’t say our project was illegal and that I earned from it, there’s no such issue. The only finding was that the ordinance for the project was not effective.)
Echiverri is facing other graft complaints for other projects in Caloocan. In July 2016, the Office of the Ombudsman ordered the filing of graft charges against the same city officials for P10-million worth of drainage and construction projects in 2011 and 2013. – Rappler.com
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