Former Cebu City OBO chief suspended for negligence

06/17/10 - The Office of the Ombudsman in the Visayas has suspended Mandaue City engineer Antonio Sanchez for two months and one day after he was found guilty of negligence of duty during his stint as head of the Office of the Building Official (OBO) in Cebu City in 2007.

The Ombudsman ordered Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Contes to implement the suspension and to submit to the anti-graft office a compliance report within five days from receipt of the order.

“Clearly, respondent (Sanchez) has been negligent of his duty as building official. Neglect of duty is failure to give due attention, especially to the performance of a task or duty, a designed refusal, indifference, or unwillingness to perform one's duty,” said lawyer Maria Regina Hagad-Fernandez, an graft investigation and prosecution officer.

Mandaue City Administrator Briccio Boholst declined to comment on Sanchez suspension. “I could not comment on something which I have not received yet,” he said.

He, however, said Sanchez had retired.

Boholst said he had yet to know details on how the suspension order will be implemented.

Sanchez allegedly issued building permits without the necessary supporting documents when he was head of the OBO in Cebu City.

Although Sanchez himself did not sign the building permits, the Ombudsman said that an office head had to be responsible for all operations within his jurisdiction.

While suspended, Sanchez will not receive his monthly salary for two months.

The case stemmed from a complaint filed in 2007 by Arabella De Leon against Sanchez for issuing a building permit for a two-story residential house to two applicants.

De Leon said a portion of her house was destroyed by workers even without the necessary demolition permit.

She argued that a demolition permit was necessary before a building permit can be issued.

The OBO allegedly issued a building permit to the two applicants even without the necessary supporting documents.

After she complained to OBO, the construction of the two-story house was suspended.

OBO told the applicants to present the documents to validate the issuance of a building permit.

De Leon later learned that construction continued even if the two applicants failed to show documents.

In his counter-affidavit, Sanchez said he delegated the evaluation and approval of applications for building permits to his assistant engineer to avoid delays in the processing of building permits.

He said he acted mostly on applications of building permits for commercial, industrial, and institutional buildings.

Although his name appears on the building permit of the two applicants, Sanchez said it was his assistant engineer who signed it.

But the anti-graft office maintained that Sanchez was still liable for simple neglect of duty.

“While we say that heads of offices may delegate some of their duties, they could not do so with regard to their responsibilities,” Fernandez said. (inquirer)

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