PACC eyes graft, gross misconduct charges vs PNR chief Junn Magno
MANILA, Philippines – Philippine National Railways (PNR) General Manager Junn Magno may face charges of graft and gross misconduct, after the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) said it found evidence to formally charge him.
The PACC said it evaluated the complaint filed by the Bagong Kapisanan ng Nagkakaisang Manggagawa sa PNR, represented by its president Edgar Bilayon, and Magno's counterstatement.
In a PACC charge sheet obtained by Rappler, the commission said it found prima facie evidence that:
- Magno is liable for gross misconduct – under Rule 10, Section 46A of the Revised Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service (RRACCS) – for failing to take action on the administrative case filed against PNR counsel Celeste Lauta. Instead of acting on the complaint, Magno even appointed Lauta to numerous key posts despite the decision of a special investigating committee recommending her dismissal from office. Lauta's appointments, employees argued, violated the principle of checks and balances. (READ: Corruption, mismanagement issues hound PNR chief Junn Magno)
- Magno violated Section 3 of Republic Act (RA) No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for what state auditors called "illegal" use of P50.9 million in railway funds as payment for security services. State auditors also earlier said that the security services were already contracted in November 2015 for P62.7 million covering 3 years. The PNR paid P50.9 million in just a year. (READ: COA raises red flags over PNR 'illegal use' of funds)
Section 3A of RA No. 3019 declares that it is unlawful to cause "any undue injury to any party, including the government, or giving any private party and unwarranted benefits, advantage, or preference in the discharge of official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence."
"You as general manager of the Philippine National Railways deliberately took no action on the administrative case filed against Atty Celeste Lauta in accordance with the period and procedures required under the 2017 [RRACCS]," the PACC said in a document dated March 20 and signed by Executive Director Eduardo Bringas.
"And for the COA findings that there was illegal disbursement of funds in the payment of the Eastern Security Services, constituting technical malversation," the commission added.
The PACC asked Magno to answer within 7 days from receipt. Rappler asked Magno for comment, but he has yet to respond.
Bilayon, for his part, welcomed the PACC move and said he hopes Magno would be "punished."
"We hope appropriate measures be undertaken to make sure that government resources are guarded against those who were given the chance to properly manage it but [did] otherwise, and to punish them to the hilt for being undesirable public servants," Bilayon said in a text message to Rappler.
Magno was appointed PNR chief in May 2017 by President Rodrigo Duterte. Under Magno's term, there were at least 713 trip cancellations in the first two months of 2019. These canceled trips affected thousands of passengers. – Rappler.com