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DPWH official faces trial for Asean lamppost scam

By: Ador Vincent S. Mayol November 07,2015 - 01:26 AM

Another public works official in Central Visayas will face trial for  the  purchase and installation of “overpriced” lampposts for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit held in 2007.

Leah Negre, chairman of the regional estimating committee of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) 7, was indicted by the Office of the Ombudsman in the Visayas for  violating Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

Imported lampposts installed along Ouano Avenue in Mandaue City for the 2007 Asean Summit are reminders of corruption in a national project of DPWH involving local officials.

Imported lampposts installed along Ouano Avenue in Mandaue City for the 2007 Asean Summit are reminders of corruption in a national project of DPWH involving local officials.

Negre was charged before the Cebu City trial court for giving “unwarranted benefits, advantage, or preference” to Gampik Construction and Development, Inc. and for preparing an excessively overpriced Approved Budget for the Contract (ABC) involving 300 lampposts in Mandaue City.

Bail was recommended at P30,000.

Negre’s involvement in the scam was noted during a reinvestigation  in 2009 but it took some time before the Ombudsman impleaded her in the case.

Five other graft cases are pending before  the Sandiganbayan against  14 DPWH officials, two private contractors, and local government officials for a total of 1,800 China-made  lampposts believed to be overpriced.

Both former mayors Thadeo Ouano of Mandaue City and Arturo Radaza of Lapu-Lapu City were impleaded in the lamppost scandal by the Ombudsman.

The Sandiganbayan dropped the lone case against Radaza three years ago. Ouano was named in two cases. One case against him was dismissed.

All  respondents in the lamppost cases were earlier found guilty of grave misconduct by the Ombudsman-Visayas and were ordered dismissed from public service.

Ouano and Radaza, however, escaped the penalty because they were reelected.  Under the Aguinaldo Doctrine, reelection to office condones administrative liability for misconduct done during a previous term. However, criminal liability cannot be erased.

The DPWH Program of Works and Estimates showed that 300 lampposts were bought for a total price of P25 million.

In its own computation, however, the  anti-graft office  pegged the  imported  lampposts that Negre dealt with at only P7.48 million.

The contract price Negre prepared was found overpriced by P17.48 million or 233 percent.

The Commission on Audit, on the other hand, pegged the price of the 300 lampposts in Mandaue at P8.74 million or a variance of  P16.23 million, or 185 percent, against the contract price.

“The foregoing computations are clearly excessive as the amounts are beyond the 10 percent allowable price variance under COA Cicrular No. 85-55A,” said graft investigation and prosecution officer Eileen Mae Lagat-Alde in her resolution.

She said Negre prepared the ABC without thoroughly checking the details or making an in-depth market probe despite the glaring overpriced cost of the lampposts.

Alde’s findings were approved by Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Paul Elmer Clemente.

The lampposts were installed as part of the preparations for the 12th Asean Summit in 2007.

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TAGS: Cebu, Mandaue City

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