Oct 12, 2020 @ 15:55

CA affirms dismissal of Echiverri subordinates over unauthorized P82M projects

The Court of Appeals (CA) has affirmed the dismissal of two former Caloocan City officials from public office in connection with various projects worth P81.91 million that former mayor Enrico Echiverri entered into without prior authorization from the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP).

In a recent 2-page resolution, the CA Former 14th Division denied former city accountant Edna Centeno and former city budget officer Jesusa Garcia’s joint motion for reconsideration of its February 5, 2020 decision.

The said ruling upheld the Ombudsman’s September 20, 2016 decision finding them guilty of grave misconduct and perpetually disqualifying them from reemployment in the government service.

The officers argued that the infrastructure projects were authorized through a lumpsum appropriation for “statutory and contractual obligations” in the city’s annual executive budget for 2011, adding that this was proven by the project’s inclusion in the list under the 20% internal revenue allotment (IRA) for development projects.

They also argued that the projects were earmarked by the City Development Council, via Resolution Number CM-RECOM 11-001, and funded under Social Development and Economic Development. Centeno said she merely certified the completeness and propriety of basic supporting documents attached to the disbursement voucher and relied on the sufficiency and availability of the lumpsum appropriation.

The court, however, said these arguments were just “a rehash of those raised in their petition for review dated July 21, 2017.”

“As the joint motion for reconsideration raises the same factual and legal issues as those already passed upon by this Court in Our 5 February 2020 Decision, We see no compelling reason to re-discuss the same,” read the resolution penned by Associate Justice Germano Francisco Legaspi.

The Commission on Audit (COA) in 2013 disallowed the expenditures and ordered Echiverri, Centeno and Garcia, along with two other officials, to return not just the P81.91 million but also another P979.06 million.

However, the COA, in a June 15, 2017 decision, lifted the notice of disallowance. It said the irregularities were cured after the Sanggunian passed the necessary resolutions to ratify and validate the projects already implemented without its prior authorization.

This led the Sandiganbayan to dismiss several criminal cases against Echiverri, Centeno and Garcia.

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