By Jhelyn Andal – Rocha
Governor Joel Reyes and other officials of the provincial government are facing legal charges regarding the alleged excessive amount of over P49 million used in the Barangay Environmental Sanitation Project (BESP) in 2002.
The governor, along with budget officer Luis Marcaida II, treasurer Teofilo Palanca Jr., accountant Orlando Colobong, engineer Charlie Factor and former planning officer Nelson Devanadera, were charged of dereliction of duty and grave abuse of authority by Datu Sangkula, Engr. Emmanuel Feliciano and Job Lagrada before the Ombudsman.
Sangkula, in a press conference Nov. 8, said that BESP exceeded the allowable expenses based on a report from the commission on audit (COA).
“Our basis for filing the case was because we think there was negligence of duty on the part of the province’s chief executive as well as other provincial officials involved in the transactions for the project,” Sangkula said.
Others even say that BESP was not well-implemented in some areas, he added.
BESP was implemented in 10 rural areas all over the province to provide reliable water systems. The project was funded by a portion of the provincial government’s P200-million loan from the World Bank.
“The provincial government spent an excessive amount for the project and yet, it was not implemented well by the contractor,” Sangkula claimed.
C. Lotti & Associati, the contractor for the project, was also included in the case.
“The concept of the BESP was good because it provided safe water to the public to address health concerns. But in terms of implementation, there was a big problem according to the COA report,” Sangkula explained.
In an interview over local radio station DYER, Provincial Information Officer Rolando Bonoan Jr. defended the provincial government saying that the COA reports were just initial findings or observations through special auditing in 2004, and not a confirmed report.
He said that the provincial government had already sent COA a reply but they have not received a confirmed report yet.
“Just to make it clear, the project was well-implemented and still operational until now. After the implementation, we already turned it over to barangay water associations,” Bonoan said.
The barangay water associations were in-charge of the maintenance of the water system.
Bonoan also explained the “excessive expenses” alleged by Sangkula’s group.
“The World Bank has their own prescribed procedures for sanitation projects unlike locally-funded projects. These include the hiring of consultants which was necessary as part of the package they required,” he explained.