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MinDA official faces graft complaint

AN official of the Mindanao Development Authority is facing a graft complaint before for allowing her husband to participate in an official activity of the agency in 2015.

The Ombudsman found probable cause to indict director IV Charlita Escaño of MinDA's Office of Finance and Administrative Services in Davao City for violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, or Republic Act No. 3019.

Escaño allowed her engineer-husband, Allan Escaño, a non-MinDA employee, to attend the basic occupational safety and health course for construction officers” held at the Ritz Hotel in Davao City on March 16 to March 20, 2015.

MinDA paid the amount of P30,000 representing the registration fee for five participants, but only four employees attended with Allan Escaño, a private individual, replacing Renato Buhat Jr., who was unavailable to take part in the seminar.

In a counter-affidavit, the MinDA director said she was informed a refund was not allowed for any canceled attendance, and as replacement for Buhat, she invited her husband to attend the seminar, and that the organizers allowed it.

“Respondent gave unwarranted benefit, advantage or preference to her husband, engineer Escaño, by causing his inclusion in the training in lieu of engineer Buhat for which MinDA already paid the registration fee," the Ombudsman's resolution read.

In a related development, the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division has dismissed the falsification charges filed by the Ombudsman against dismissed Southern Leyte governor Damian Mercado.

In a 10-page resolution dated May 21, the anti-graft court granted Mercado's motion to dismiss his case, citing “inordinate delay” on the part of the prosecution to hear his case.

Mercado asserted his right to speedy disposition of case and questioned the prosecution’s inability to file the case against him at the soonest possible time as it took the latter 10 years to do so.

The Ombudsman accused Mercado of putting falsified entries in his personal data sheet and in his Elective Local Official’s Profile Directory in 2010.

It said Mercado claimed to have graduated from the University of Visayas with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering.

The Ombudsman also charged Mercado for his alleged failure to state in his PDS the year when he graduated from his elementary and secondary education at the Maasin Central School and the UV, respectively.

The Sandiganbayan agreed with Mercado.

“The task of the Ombudsman is simply to verify if indeed accused intentionally falsified his PDS and ELOPD by declaring that he was a Civil Engineer. The issue was overly simply enough that a prima facie determination should not have taken ten (10) long years to resolve,” the Sandiganbayan said.

The anti-graft court also ordered the lifting of Mercado’s hold departure order.

Division chairperson Associate Justice Rafael Lagos penned the resolution, and was concurred by Associate Justices Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega and Maryann Corpus-Manalac.

Mercado is facing separate graft charges owing to his alleged anomalous purchase of three second-hand government service vehicles during his term as Maasin City mayor in 2007.

Topics: Charlita Escaño , Mindanao Development Authority , Allan Escaño , Damian Mercado , Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega , Maryann Corpus-Manalac

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