Junket in butuan city: 5 DPWH Bicol execs hit over trip for boss’ farewell


By Manuel T. Ugalde LEGAZPI CITY --- Five officials of the regional office of the Department of Public Works and Highways were taken to task for leaving their posts last week to attend the turnover ceremonies for the incoming regional director of DPWH Regional Office 13 in Butuan City in Mindanao vice its former regional director who has now been assigned as the new regional director of DPWH Bicol. Danilo Versola, the new Bicol regional director, last March 13 formally turned over his Butuan City post to a new RD there identified as Engineer Eduarte. It was also Versola’s chance to bid goodbye to his former co-employees in Butuan City. Versola assumed his new post in Bicol on March 7, following a major shakeup here where its erstwhile regional director, Reynaldo Tagudando was reassigned at the DPWH’s Bureau of Research and Standards at the Manila central office.Two more DPWH Bicol officials that included the regional legal officer were also dispatched to their new assignment in what observers said was the relief of the three major executives of DPWH Bicol over charges of graft and corrupt practices. At least five executives at the Department of Public Works and Highways regional office here came under fire after they were uncovered to have their joint personal tour in Butuan City to attend the turnover ceremony of the newly appointed Bicol regional director Danilo Versola Monday last week. Those who attended Versola’s turnover in Butuan City were identified to be DPWH Bicol Regional Equipment Service Engineer Gadi Valencia, DPWH Bicol Regional Human Resource Officer Isabelo “Billy” Alvarez and his wife Ma. Socorro Jacinta Alvarez, Public Affairs Regional executive Lucy Castaneda, and Asst. Maintenance Division Engineer Erwin Bernal. Mrs Alvarez is holding the post as Supply Officer 1. It should be recalled that on March 7, Versola who was Region 13 director in Butuan City, assumed his post in Bicol vice outgoing Regional Director Reynaldo Tagudando who has been reassigned at the Bureau of Research and Standard. Last February 23, this year, on orders of DPWH Secretary Mark Villar, Tagudando, including Asst. Regional Director Armando Estrella and legal officer Oliver Rodulfo, were relieved from their Bicol posts with Estrella reassigned in Tacloban and Rodulfo in Cebu. Marinduque District Engineer Esmeraldo Sarmiento succeeded Estrella as officer in charge. Interviewed by the media, Administrative Officer Flocerfida Azotea said the five officials had verbally filed their leave of absence on March 13, which coincided with the turnover ceremony in Butuan City. The same five DPWH Bicol employees reported back to office on March 16. In a radio broadcast, newscaster Joshua Martinez said he called up Castaneda Monday last week and the public affairs executive informed him she was in Manila. Castaneda has yet to be appointed as regular public affairs chief after then Regional Director Danilo Dequito’s alleged technical adviser Charito Ebarle managed to get the public affairs item in 2012 with Castaneda named as the spokesperson of DPWH Bicol. Incidentally, Ebarle, along with Dequito were sacked in 2013 and reassigned in Manila. Alvarez is reportedly eyeing for a higher position, while Bernal and Valencia are reportedly seeking to get permanent positions for their present assignments. The Civil Service law requires that the intended leave of absence should first be approved and the purpose of the leave specified whether it is personal or official. The five employees claimed they were invited by Versola to attend the turnover in Butuan City. Versola as of this writing could not be contacted for comment.