Ombudsman charges ex-Philippine Ports Authority officials with graft
MANILA, Philippines – The Office of the Ombudsman charged former Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) general manager Juan Sta Ana and former assistant general manager Raul Santos with graft.
In an 11-page resolution, the Ombudsman found probable cause against the two based on the complaint filed by former Agham representative Angelo Palmones.
Palmones linked the two to the supposedly anomalous renewal of a private port permit in favor of DMCI Mining Corporation in 2013. He also named Isidro and Herbert Consunji, Rodolfo Cabuay, and Ceasar Simbulan, but they were not included in the resolution.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales approved the indictment on January 5 and ordered that charges against the two be brought before the court.
"[Respondents] were not able to fully explain why the port permit was renewed on the basis only of the miscellaneous lease application and payment of occupancy fees, in clear violation of PPA rules and regulations," the Ombudsman said.
In his complaint, Palmones questioned why the PPA granted beaching, temporary operating, and building permits for a loading port requested by DMCI Holdings for the use of its mining unit. Their latest renewal was granted on May 30, 2013, valid until May 2018.
Palmones said the PPA gave the permits despite the port violating the requirement that it should be built atop a "foreshore area" or an area that lies between the average high tide mark and the average low tide mark.
If they had built it on the allowed area, Palmones said, they would have obtained a foreshore lease with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
The PPA officials denied the charges, saying that they acted in accordance with Administrative Order No. 03-2013 which allows renewal just on the basis of applying. The order they mentioned, however, only came after they granted the permits to DMCI.
The Ombudsman also stressed that Palmones had pointed out the irregularity of the renewal to the officials themselves, but they apparently chose to ignore him. The officials rejected this accusation by claiming that they referred Palmones' letter to other offices.
"Unwarranted benefits, advantage, and preference to DMCI is further shown in their inaction to complainant's letters to them. Respondent Sta Ana ignored complainant's letters," the Ombudsman said. – Rappler.com