A FEW days after Philippine Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales announces the finding of probable cause to charge former Caloocan City mayor Enrico Echiverri and two other city government officials with violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019 (the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) before the Sandiganbayan, the same set of respondents were charged anew with additional counts of graft in the same anti-graft court.
This time, Ombudsman records show that in 2013, the city undertook the improvement of the drainage system of Antipolo Street in barangay 30 in Caloocan at a contract cost of
P4.9million pesos (about US $106,521).
Two year earlier, the Ombudsman found out that Echiverri also undertook the construction of a barangay hall in barangay 154 with at a project cost of
P5.4million pesos (about US $117,391).
Upon audit, the Commission on Audit (COA) reported several irregularities in the projects such as lack of specific appropriation ordinance and the absence of approval of the contracts by the Sangguniang Panglungsod.
In 2013, the COA thus issued Notices of Disallowance for the two projects.
According to Morales, “without authority from the SP, Echiverri entered into [contracts] which constituted an unwarranted benefit and privilege granted to a private party.”
Under Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019, public officials are prohibited from causing any undue injury to any party, including the Government, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence.
Aside from Echiverri, the Office of the Ombudsman identifies his co-accused as former city accountant Edna Centeno and city budget officer Jesusa Garcia.
In the related administrative case, the Ombudsman found Centeno and Garcia guilty of grave misconduct and were perpetually disqualified from holding public office.
The offense of grave misconduct carries the penalty of dismissal from the service. In case the penalty cannot be imposed due to separation from the service, however, it is convertible to a fine equivalent to respondents’ one year salary.