THE Office of the Ombudsman on Thursday dismissed from service two officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways for grave misconduct in connection with the anomalies in the rehabilitation of two bridges in Negros Occidental.
The Ombudsman indicted district engineers Haydee Alunan and Elsie Sabay for two counts of graft.
Apart from the dismissal from service, the court ordered the forfeiture of retirement benefits and perpetual disqualification from holding public office.
On Feb. 10, 2014, the respondents commenced the implementation of the rehabilitation of the bridges scheduled to be completed on June 29, 2014 by issuing notices to proceed in favor of OPELL Construction and Development Corp.
During an ocular inspection on Dec. 3, 2015, the field investigation office discovered that the Mabua bridge in Barangay Poblacion and Bagambayan bridge in Barangay Tiling, both in Cauayan, Negros Occidental were unfinished.
Alunan admitted the delay in the completion of the projects, claiming the delay was caused by intervening factors, such as the removal of the water pipelines attached to the bridge railings, relocation of the electrical post, heavy rains and floods.
“There was an unreasonable delay of at least one year and six months in the completion of the projects [as] an undisputable fact established by the evidence on record which respondents deliberately set aside despite delay in the completion of work by more than 380 percent,” the resolution read.
It added: “During the implementation stage, respondents allowed the contractor to continue working on the project despite poor performance/accomplishment and unreasonable delay of the contractor in the projects.
“They allowed the contractor to collect full payment thereafter with understated penalty/liquidated damages.
“As shown in the Disbursement Vouchers, the contractor was not made to pay for the unreasonable delay of each project of at least 562 days.
“Thus, the amount of liquidated damages was apparently understated and respondents clearly gave unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference to the contractor in violation of law.”