Ombudsman junks graft complaint vs ex-DOTr Usec. Chavez, 2 others

Published October 26, 2021, 2:01 PM

by Jel Santos

Office of the Ombudsman

The Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) has dismissed the graft complaint filed against former Department of Transportation (DOTr) Undersecretary Cesar B. Chavez and two other individuals on the agency’s non-payment of the P176 million in maintenance service fees to Busan Universal Rail, Inc. (BURI) for the Metro Rail Transit System Line 3 (MRT-3).

Also cleared by the OMB of the Sept. 20, 2017 BURI complaint, aside from Chavez, were DOTr’s Senior Technical Assistant Hernando T. Cabrera, and Urban Integrated Consultants, Inc. (UICI) Program Head Jorgette A. Bellen.

In a resolution, the OMB said that contrary to the accusation of BURI, there was no substantial evidence that the respondents violated Republic Act No. 6713, the Norms of Conduct of Public Officials and Employees and the Duties of Public Officials and Employees.

It said: “There is no substantial evidence to show that they (Chavez, Cabrera and Bellen) committed a wrongful act while they were in the discharge of their official functions. The acts attributed to them, apart from having stemmed from their faithful discharge of office, were neither tainted with any irregularity nor in utter disservice to the public.”

It also declared that the conspiracy theory alleged by BURI has no factual and legal bases.

“There is nothing to show that Chavez and Cabrera conspired with Bellen in the alleged non-payment of BURI’s monetary claims,” it stressed.

On Bellen’s alleged liability, the OMB said it is bereft of jurisdiction over her, saying that jurisdiction belongs to another forum.

“This Office has no disciplinary authority over Bellen considering that she is not a public officer or employee. Her services were engaged by UICI and her employment contract showed that as Program Head, her deployment at the MRT-3 Depot was without any cost to DOTr,” it said.