2 ex-DOTC execs face graft raps

MANILA: Two former senior officials of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) are facing graft charges in connection with alleged irregularities in the P24.8-million expansion project of the Iloilo Toll Center nearly a decade ago.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales has upheld the finding of probable cause to indict in the Sandiganbayan former Transportation Assistant Secretary Lorenzo Formoso III and project manager Arthur Ancheta for allegedly awarding the project to Advance Solutions Inc. without a public bidding.

Morales, however, absolved staff engineer George Tardio for lack of evidence. She also ordered a further investigation of former Transportation Undersecretary Virgilio Pena, former Commissioner Elberto Emphasis of the DOTC Telecommunications Office and Arnold Ong of Advance Solutions.

She said Formoso and Ancheta should be held liable for showing “evident bad faith” after they insisted on transacting directly with the private contractor without the approval of the DOTC bids and awards committee.

“(T)he obvious intention was to circumvent the public bidding requirement so that respondent Formoso and Ancheta’s preferred supplier, whom they contacted directly, can get the contract in question,” Morales said in a statement.

In its investigation, the Ombudsman said Formoso and Ancheta violated RA 9184, or the Government Procurement Reform Act, when they “connived with one another” to directly purchase “excel” switches from Advance Solutions worth P24.8 million in 2006.

Reached for comment, Formoso said his lawyer will comment on the case Tuesday. He denied any wrongdoing.

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