Villar sacks DPWH engineer over P20-M extortion attempt

Published November 16, 2018, 2:31 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Betheena Unite

Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar has dismissed a district engineer caught in a video allegedly seeking some P20-million kickback from a contractor in Ifugao.

Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar (photo by Alberto Garcia/ MANILA BULLETIN)
Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar (photo by Alberto Garcia/ MANILA BULLETIN)

In a memorandum dated Nov. 14, 2018, Villar ordered Engineer Lorna Ricardo to immediately vacate her post as district engineer of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)Abra District Engineering Office pursuant to the “preventive suspension” rule of the Revised Rules on Administrative Cases in Civil Service.

Ricardo was caught in a video allegedly asking monetary favors from the Ifugao contractor in exchange for the awarding of the Lagawe-Caba-Ponghal Road Development Project.

Presidential Anti–Corruption Commission (PACC) Commissioner Greco Belgica reported in a recent press conference that Ricardo, as seen in the video, allegedly asked for an initial P10 million as “payment or reimbursement fee” that will be used to facilitate the release of the P100-million development fund from Department of Budget and Management, claiming that Lagawe-Caba-Ponghal Road is a special project.

Belgica said Ricardo had also allegedly demanded one percent of the 10-percent mobilization fund as SOP (standard operating procedure) for DPWH Bids and Awards Committee Ifugao District, and 5 percent SOP on every progress billing.

He said Ricardo had also allegedly asked for a P20,000processing fee for the issuance of statement of work accomplished; one percent of P100 million; and P1 million for purported vehicle rental for the use of the DPWH project engineer.

These sum up to between P16 million to P20 million, Belgica said.

Villar instructed Ricardo to report to the DPWH Central Office pending the conduct of appropriate administrative investigation over her alleged malfeasance.

The DPWH secretary also enjoined the Internal Affairs Division of the Legal Service – the office mandated to conduct the thorough investigation – to practice impartiality throughout the process and remain true to the department’s endeavor to rid of erring officials from the bureaucracy.

It was recalled that in August, the same scheme was also uncovered in DPWH-Pasig involving a district engineer and four other personnel. They were also suspended for allegedly accepting a P4-million bribe from a contractor for winning the bidding outright.

The PACC also discovered and exposed the illegal transaction.

 
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