President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the filing of corruption charges against the district engineer of the Department of Public Works and Highways in Pasig City and four of his colleagues for allegedly receiving P4 million in “grease money” from the contractor of a P70- million public works project.
Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission Commissioner Greco Belgica said the President had ordered the filing of the charges against Roberto “Bobby” Nicolas, district engineer of the department in Pasig City, and his four colleagues Tess Orquia, Melody Domiguez, Luisito Ponancio and Vilma Gomez.
Nicolas, Orquia, Dominguez, Ponancio and Gomez will also be charged with violation of Republic Act 6713, or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees” for allegedly receiving bribe money from the contractor of the project.
Public Works Secretary Mark Villar confirmed the report, saying five more administrative cases would also be lodged against Nicolas and his alleged cohorts that would pave the way for their removal from the department.
Villar has already suspended Nicolas and three other people except Gomez, who is now retired from public service.
Belgica said the P4 million handed down to the suspects personnel was an initial payment for its P20 million “Standard Operating Procedure” fee, for a guaranteed win in the bidding of a P70 Million steel parking project that the contractor was vying for.
Belgica alleged that the P20 million was the amount of the “agreed” SOP between the DPWH-Pasig district engineers and contractors.
Belgica’s basis for the alleged receipt of P4 million by Orquia and Gomez from the ‘representative’ of the contractor was based on “video footage” where the illegal transaction was captured.
Belgica said the PACC video footage was “true” and “verified,” adding the contractor’s representative in the transaction was an “asset” of the PACC.
He said Nicolas was allegedly part of the illegal transaction even though he was not in the incident because the alleged crime took place in his office.
The PACC commissioner also noted that Gomez was a former member of Nicolas’ staff, although he is now retired.
He said the PACC had received many complaints regarding the allegation of corruption against Nicolas, but no solid and strong evidence was provided against him.
However, Belgica said the video footage on the P4 million SOP was clear and convincing evidence against the alleged involvement of Nicolas and his accomplices in corruption in DPWH-Pasig City.
Nine congressmen were mentioned in the PACC report implicating them to the alleged corruption at the DPWH that Duterte made public, although the PACC had no evidence against them.
The legislators identified in the PACC report are Occidental Mindoro Rep. Josephine Ramirez Sato, Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas, Misamis Occidental Rep. Henry Oaminal, Isabela Rep. Alyssa Sheena Tan, Northern Samar Rep. Paul Daza, Quezon Rep. Angelina “Helen” Tan, ACT-CIS Party-list Rep. Eric Yap, Bataan Rep. Geraldine Roman and former Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat, Jr.
They denied the accusation, especially Quezon Rep Tan, who repeatedly said that the source of the information that he was corrupt came from his political opponent.
Yap filed a resolution to find out the truth of the investigation conducted by the PACC.
However, Villar removed the 14 DPWH district engineers in compliance with President Duterte’s order.
The engineers are now facing graft and corruption and administrative charges.