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District engineers identified with solon promoted

By Manuel T. Ugalde

LEGAZPI CITY --- Some call it luck, competence, connection, or plain corruption -- as what our present civil service is being pictured of.

This was among the usual reactions that transpired about the score of engineers at the Albay 2nd District Engineering Office here who were promoted to sensitive and juicy positions, which other district engineering offices failed to produce during the Duterte administration.

Albay 2nd congressional district is represented by Congressman Joey Sarte Salceda, a district noted for topping in infrastructure budget allocations among the region’s 16 engineering districts -- a crown that was once reigned by Rep. Edcel Lagman (Albay, 1st District) for two decades since the Cory administration in 1986.

It will be recalled that Congressman Lagman’s district was pathetically stripped of its annual budget by the Duterte administration under the 2017 General Appropriation Act, for his being vocal against Duterte human rights violations.

Topping the lists among the extra graft ridden by the Presidential Anti Corruption Commission (PACC) during the past administration, the Department of Public Works and Highways in Bicol had often figured for decades promoting employees on the strength of “cash and connections” from top public works officials and lawmakers, a hardly non dying issue that earned the DPWH a moniker in tagalog as Departamento sa Pagnanakaw nang Walang Hanggan -- and -- For Every Public Works Project is a Crime.’

Rep. Salceda disclosed that every competent employee deserves promotion and those implicated in any disturbing scandal deserves the backlash. He once dubbed his former district engineer a competent one.

DPWH records showed at least five engineers at the Albay 2nd District Engineering gets impressive promotions with the former district engineer Danilo Villa swiftly accelerated to the position of assistant regional director in Region 7, based in Cebu City. Engineer Villa was Salceda district engineer for four years during the Duterte administration. He was briefly reassigned district engineer in Leyte province, then as Region 7 ARD post. His (Villa) assistant district engineer Eleanor Areola was promoted chief of the region’s construction division, while her successor, assistant district engineer Leopoldo Barela Jr. is now district engineer at the Camarines Sur 5th Engineering District. On the other hand, the Material and Testing section chief Leonardo Gonzales have been promoted assistant district engineer in Masbate, while Planning section chief Engineer Gene Ryan Altea was reassigned in Region 4-A as chief of the region’s planning division. Region 4-A covers the provinces of Mindoro Oriental and Occidental, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan, popularly known as MIMAROPA

Highly competent as he was described by Congressman Salceda, however, Villa did not left Albay without scandalously implicated in graft and corruption issue and as a diehard cockfight aficionado, along with his staff, then Engineer 2, Leopoldo Barela, his regular company. They were allegedly seen regularly right at the cockpit bleacher even during office hours both wearing a half-mask and ball cap in effort to hide their identities at the Legazpi Cockpit Arena and in other cockpit in Albay towns, during big time derby. Villa refused to give comment when contacted other than saying he was grateful and thankful being described by Congressman Salceda as a competent engineer.

A former Albay radio broadcaster-turned contractor and cockfight aficionado himself, said Villa and Barela were just among the scores of DPWH engineers prominently known as big-time cockfight aficionados, adding the regional office had two divisions chief who even have the nerve in personally releasing and tossing their cock for the actual fight right inside the cockpit. And these prominent cockfight aficionados from DPWH were never punish despite the boasted warning from the government against employees in any gambling facilities, he said.

The source recalled President Duterte first executive order in 2016 that strongly warned government workers in gambling facilities punishable by immediate dismissal. He lamented not one among these notorious gamblers from DPWH was ever punished, worse, even promoted.


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