CA affirms suspension of PNR engineer over railroad ties made of wrong wood

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The Court of Appeals (CA) has affirmed the suspension of the officer-in-charge (OIC) of the Philippine National Railways (PNR) engineering department in connection with the purchase of P47.13-million worth of railroad ties made of the wrong type of wood in 2013.

In a recent 15-page decision, the CA 8th Division denied the appeal of Edwin Balong-angey on the Ombudsman’s December 11, 2015 decision to suspend him for three months for the administrative offense of simple neglect of duty.

Balong-angey was found to have signed the disbursement vouchers that certified the expenses were necessary, lawful and incurred under his supervision. This was despite the fact that the proper signatory was the manager of the engineering department, not an OIC like him.

He was also faulted for signing the inspection and acceptance report, even as inferior larch (a softwood species imported from China) was delivered instead of the yakal (a Philippine hardwood species) required by PNB board resolutions and bidding documents.

Balong-angey argued that he acted as dictated by Office Order Number 6-2013 issued by then-general manager Junio Ragrario. He also argued that the Ombudsman did not establish any bad faith, malice and partiality on his part.

The CA rejected these contentions.

“Petitioner Balong-angey failed to exercise such prudence, caution and attention when he attested to the legality and regularity of the transactions despite the irregularities therein, and subsequently signed the Disbursement Vouchers despite knowing that he is not the proper signatory thereto,” read the decision penned by Associate Justice Ramon Bato Jr.

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