DPWH engineers dismissed over bridge project anomaly

BACOLOD City – Two engineers of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) 3rd Engineering District in Negros Occidental were ordered dismissed from the service by the Ombudsman.

Dismissed were Officer-in-Charge (OIC) District Engineer Haydee Alunan and OIC-Assistant District Engineer Elsie Sabay for grave misconduct in connection with the anomalies in the rehabilitation of the Mabua bridge in Barangay Poblacion and Bagambayan bridge in Barangay Tiling, both in Cauayan, Negros Occidental.

Alunan and Sabay were also meted the accessory penalties of cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits, perpetual disqualification from holding public office, and bar from taking the civil service examination.

In the event of separation from the service, the penalty of dismissal is convertible to a fine equivalent to their one-year salary, the Ombudsman said.

The Ombudsman also found probable cause to charge Alunan and Sabay with two counts of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019).

Investigation showed that on February 10, 2014, respondents commenced the implementation of the rehabilitation of the bridges which were scheduled to be completed on 29 June 2014, by issuing Notices to Proceed in favor of OPELL Construction and Development Corporation.

During the ocular inspection on 03 December 2015, the Field Investigation Office discovered that both bridges were unfinished.

Alunan admitted that there was a delay in the completion of the projects but claimed that the delay was caused by intervening factors such as the removal of the water pipelines attached to the bridge railings, the relocation of the electrical post, and heavy rains and flooding.

The Ombudsman found that “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.”

“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 the 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,” the resolution said.

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