Court sends 3 DPWH officials to jail for ‘overpriced’ Cebu lamp posts

The Sandiganbayan has found three officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and a private individual guilty of corruption in connection with irregularities in the procurement of decorative lamp posts along several thoroughfares of Mandaue and Lap-Lapu City in Cebu for the 12th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit in 2007.

In an 81-page decision penned by Associate Justice Kevin Narce Vivero dated September 24 and made public Wednesday, the anti-graft court’s Sixth Division sentenced Robert Gingging Lala, Pureza Fernandez, Agustinito Hermoso, and Gerardo Surla to six to eight years imprisonment for violation of Section 3 (e) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

Lala was the regional director of DPWH Region 7, Fernandez was the OIC-chief of its Maintenance Division, while Hermoso was a member of the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) which figured in the anomalies.

In a separate criminal information filed before the prosecutors, it showed the four conspired to corner a contract for 120 sets of decorative park lamp assembly worth PHP35.63 million without competitive bidding to Surla’s Gampik Construction and Development Inc.

The Office of the Ombudsman computed that the project was priced in excess by PHP12.6 million and was undertaken without competitive bidding.

The other criminal charge sheet involved a contract of 300 sets of decorative park lamp assembly between DPWH and Gampik worth PHP24.9 million, which was in excess of PHP17.4 million based on the Ombudsman’s computation and in excess of PHP11.03 million as against the Commission on Audit’s cost evaluation of comparable imported lamps.

“Badges of conspiracy are evident in the manner by which Lala, Fernandez, and Hermoso, have worked together, as officials of DPWH Region 7 to pre-determine Gampik as the winning bidder even prior to the actual bidding by executing the Memorandum of Understanding,” the court said. Private individual Surla, on the other hand, signed the document on behalf of Gampik.

“All these acts contributed in the end result of giving unwarranted advantage or preference to Gampik,” the court said.

Meanwhile, six other DPWH and BAC officials were acquitted due to the insufficiency of evidence.

Associate Justices Sarah Jane T. Fernandez and Karl B. Miranda concurred in the decision. (PNA)

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