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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Ex-LWUA chief faces 300 graft charges

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OMBUDSMAN Conchita Carpio Morales has ordered the indictment of 33 former officials of the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) and slapped 300 charges against the agency’s former administrator Lorenzo Jamora.

Jamora is facing 150 counts of malversation and another 150 counts of graft before the Sandiganbayan for claiming excessive extraordinary expenses in 2006 without supporting documents and exceeding the approved budget ceiling.

Morales also ordered the filing of corruption charges against LWUA executives Aurora Raymundo-Arnaez, Leonard Matti, Francisco Dumpit, Eduardo Bangayan, Daniel Landingin, Emmanuel Malicdem, Lilian Asprer, Wilfredo Feleo, Jesus Copuyoc, Edelwina Parungao and Manalo Kagahastian.

Also charged were Manuel Yoingco, Alfredo Espino, Rebecca Barbo, Armando Fernandez, Edwin Ruiz, Bernardito de Jesus, Antonio Magtibay, Enrique Gita, Avelino Castillo, Lourdes Perele, Mario Quitoriano, Eleanora de Jesus, Hermilo Balucan, Edison Cuenca, Venus Pozon, Julian Tajolosa, Primo Lomibao, Arnaldo Espinas, Almer Zerrudo, Leopoldo Palad and Julita Corpuz.

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According to the Commission on Audit, the respondents claimed reimbursements of P12,879,337.77 supported by pro forma certificates, instead of official receipts and documents.

In July 2009, the CoA issued a notice of disallowance not authorizing the claims for reimbursement of extraordinary expenses ranging from P230,000 to P986,356 per executive.

“By attesting that the funds were spent on meetings, seminars and conferences, official entertainment, and public relations, when in truth and in fact, there were no receipts and other supporting documents to prove such expenses, respondents made untruthful statements on a public document to facilitate the misappropriation of public funds,” the Ombudsman’s resolution.

“Respondents acted with evident bad faith and/or gross inexcusable negligence when they caused and/or participated in the illegal release of funds.”

In a related administrative case, the Ombudsman also found Jamora and the other respondents guilty of dishonesty, grave misconduct and falsification of official documents.

They were ordered dismissed from the service and meted the accessory penalties of perpetual disqualification from holding public office, forfeiture of retirement benefits, and bar from taking the civil service examination.

Meanwhile, the Ombudsman ordered a six-month suspension of Danao City administrator Jesus Durano for dishonesty for false statements included in his personal data sheet.

Durano stated under oath in his 2011 personal data sheet that he had not been formally charged despite a certification issued by a lower court that he had three pending criminal cases.

“All his actions reveal an intention to conceal the fact that he was formally charged with criminal cases, constituting dishonesty. No good faith can be attributed to him.” 

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