DPWH district engineer goes on leave, will not face SP questioning on P2.1-B

MISSING ONLY THE BASKETBALL BOARD AND RING SET, the DPWH Multi-Purpose Building that will be utilized as an evacuation center is almost complete. Initiated by then DE Gil Balmadrid, the reinforced concrete edifice with kitchen, breastfeeding and comfort rooms at the back is better than the three open-type evacuation centers built by DPWH regional office.

DPWH Catanduanes District Engineer Edy Ferdinand Joven has declined the invitation from the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to appear for questioning last Monday, Feb. 13, 2023, regarding the P2.1-B in infrastructure projects transferred to the regional office.

On Friday, Joven reportedly sent a letter to SP Secretary Atty. Gilbert Suarez informing that he would not attend the 7th Regular Session of the provincial board.

Instead, he asked the SP to file with his office a request for the needed information pursuant to the Freedom of Information (FOI) Program.

“It is the very humble opinion of undersigned that the information the august body wished to gather from his testimony during its regular session can very well be addressed by a Freedom of Information-based request for the information sought,” the DE stated, as he assured that the courses of action adopted by the district office are arrived at “according to its best lights.”

The letter added that the papers and/or documents pertinent thereto are also on file and available to the public subject to compliance with existing law, rules and regulations for its release.

“Undersigned cannot add some more to these documents to bolster the accuracy of the narrations contained therein,” DE Joven stressed.

It may be recalled that the SP invitation was prompted by the revelation of Atty. Oliver Rodulfo before the SP Committee of the Whole last Feb. 2, 2023 that Congressman Eulogio Rodriguez caused the transfer of the funds and implementation of the 37 projects costing P10 million and above from the DPWH Catanduanes to the regional office.

This left the district office with just 54 projects with a total cost of P687 million, or less than 25% of the original P2.8 billion allocation for Catanduanes, the lawyer said.

Describing the move as a big insult to local contractors and engineers and huge loss of livelihood and economic opportunities, he urged the provincial board to declare DE Joven and Regional Director Virgilio Eduarte Jr. as persona non grata.

However, no one among those present agreed to push the proposal, with Provincial Board Member Edwin Tanael submitting a motion in last week’s session to invite DE Joven to shed light on the allegation this week.

Last Friday, after sending the letter to the SP, Joven and PBM Tanael attended the induction of the new officers of the Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers, Inc. (PICE) Catanduanes Chapter at Rakdell Inn.

The board member told the district engineer that he would be given one more chance to respond positively to the SP’s invitation.

A reliable source told the Tribune that Joven has filed a leave of absence with the regional office for an unspecified period of time, leaving Assistant District Engineer Noland Guerrero in charge of the Catanduanes DEO.

It is claimed that, based on the tenor of his letter declining the SP’s request, DE Joven has no intention of ever presenting himself to the provincial board for questioning on the issue.

The 62-year-old DE from Camarines Sur has reportedly let out in private his frustration at the contentious situation in Catanduanes DEO and is said to be considering leaving the post.

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