National Bureau of Investigation

NBI accuses Cebu City officials of overpaying private garbage collector

John Sitchon
NBI accuses Cebu City officials of overpaying private garbage collector

GRAFT. NBI-7 Regional Director Rennan Oliva shows the press the criminal and administrative charges they filed at the Office of the Ombudsman Visayas.

john sitchon/rappler

NBI Central Visayas names 8 city hall officials and a private contractor in what is dubbed as the 'Cebu City garbage collection anomaly'

CEBU, Philippines – National Bureau of Investigation in Central Visayas (NBI-7) Regional Director Rennan Oliva said Thursday, December 15, that 8 Cebu City officials allegedly conspired with a private construction company in a series of anomalous transactions involving city garbage collection.

“The amount involved is P239,728,280.62 through the modus of overbilling, padding, and ghost deliveries of garbage,” Oliva said in a press briefing Thursday.

In 2021, the city government entered into an agreement with a private construction company that would haul and dump the city’s garbage to an accredited dumpsite for P1,800 per ton of garbage.

In 2021, the city government entered into an agreement with Docast Construction/ JJ & J Construction and General Supply (DOCAST/JJ&J) to haul and dump the city’s garbage to an accredited dumpsite for P1,800 per ton of garbage.

According to the lead investigator, NBI-7 supervising agent Gregorio Algoso Jr., the private construction company overbilled the city government for garbage deliveries and made it appear it was still collecting and dumping garbage at a dumpsite in Barangay Binaliw, Cebu City even when they were already banned from doing so.

ARN CENTRAL Waste Management (ARN), the owners of the dumpsite, did not allow DOCAST/JJ&J to dump garbage at its site since July 8, 2021, for failure to pay money it owed to ARN months prior. 

Based on the billings, the private contractor was still charging the city government for deliveries from July 8 until August 10, 2021. 

At ARN’s dumpsite, the city government would only have to pay P600 per ton to directly dump garbage but with the private construction company, the amount doubled.

“Investigative scrutiny of the billing statements sent by [private contractor] and paid for by the Cebu City government from public funds showed that [private contractor] falsified documents by producing its own bogus/phony ARN Truck Scale Slip and padded the tonnage of the garbage it had collected and dumped at ARN’s dumpsite,” read NBI’s report.

Based on records from COA and the Cebu City Hall, the total amount actually paid by the city government was more than P367,141,446. The total amount that should have been paid was around P111,431,280.

NBI’s investigation also found missing documents and insufficient operation summaries in the transactions between the city and the private contractor.

“In furtherance of their grand design to defraud the Cebu City Government, Respondents Cebu City officials/employees, signatories to the payment claims of [private cotractor], omitted/disregarded the supporting documents attached to the disbursement vouchers,” read NBI’s report.

The officials in question are former Cebu City Administrator Floro Casas Jr., John Dacua, Grace Luardo-Silva, Allen Ceballos, Romelito Datan, and Mark Ugbinar of the Department of Public Services, City Accountant Jerome Ornopia, and City Treasurer Mare Vae Reyes.

The NBI also identified 7 private individuals in its complaints.

On Wednesday, December 14, NBI-7 filed criminal and administrative complaints before the Office of the Ombudsman Visayas against the officials and private persons involved in what was dubbed as the “Cebu City garbage collection anomaly.”

The complaints include plunder, graft and corruption, malversation of public funds, and gross neglect of duty.

Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama told reporters in an interview on Thursday afternoon, December 15, that he has yet to receive a copy of the case but intends to hold a press conference on the matter. 

On August 24, 2021, Rama who was then the vice mayor of Cebu City wrote a letter to NBI 7 to request an investigation on the garbage collection with the private contractor.

“At the time, there was no other purpose but to be transparent and accountable and you know very well, I cannot just be joking about public trust,” Rama said.

Rappler has tried reaching out to the officials and private contractor but has yet to receive any reply. – Rappler.com

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