LEGAZPI CITY --- Under fire for not implementing the Ombudsman suspension order against his controversial Bicol regional director, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Sec. Mark Villar finally enforced the one-year old unimplemented six months suspension order signed by Ombudsman Samuel Martires.
Villar on Friday, Jan. 31, issued Special Order 09 series 2020 implementing the Ombudsman suspension order against Engr. Virgilio C. Eduarte, DPWH Bicol regional director.
Eduarte’s suspension stemmed from a graft complaint filed against him and four other officials in 2016 when he was assistant regional director and chairman of the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) in Region 8, Palo, Leyte.
The four others ordered suspended were: Legal officer Eulogio Laboga; Quality Assurance and Hydrology Division chief Brenilda B. Mendoza; Equipment Management Division chief Romy M. Gumban; and Road Heightening and Tide Embankment chief Serafin S. Lago. They were all ordered suspended for six months without pay by Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Paul Elmer M. Clemente.
In August 2018, Villar appointed Eduarte as regional director in Bicol based in Legazpi City.
In his special order, Villar reassigned Engr. Melvin Navarro to replace Eduarte. Navarro was a former Bicol director in 2013. In 2015, he was reassigned as regional director of the National Capital Region, then at the office of Villar last year.
Navarro is remembered in the region for the termination from employment of two notorious contractual lady employees tagged as among the “insider-contractors” who operated inside the DPWH regional office here.
In a letter to Sec. Villar dated January 2, assistant Ombudsman Pilarita T. Lapitan asked Villar to inform the Ombudsman as to the action taken insofar as the preventive suspension of Eduarte is concerned. The letter was prompted by a complaint from a lawyer of the owner of B.M. Marketing who filed the graft charges against Eduarte and four others docketed as OMV-V-A-18-0555 for grave misconduct, serious dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the interest of the service.
On Feb. 1, 2019 the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Visayas meted a preventive suspension of six months against Eduarte and four others who were all BAC members.
Despite of the suspension order being immediate and executoryin nature as approved by Martires, Villar has reportedly not served the order to Eduarte, who continued holding office as Bicol regional director.
DPWH Bicol assistant regional director Esmeraldo Sarmiento said Navarro has assumed the post vacated by Eduarte on Wednesday, Feb. 5.