Appeals court acquits, reinstates DE Redrico
posted 5-Jan-2019  ·  
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In a reversal of fortune over a year after his dismissal by the Ombudsman, former District Engineer Elmer Redrico has been acquitted and reinstated to his post by the Court of Appeals following a review of his petition.

The CA’s Special 12th Division composed of chairman Associate Justice Ricardo Rosario and members Associate Justice Gabriel Robeniol and Associate Justice Ma. Luisa Quijano-Padilla granted the former head of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Catanduanes Engineering District in a decision promulgated last Nov. 26, 2018.

In granting the petition, the appeals court reversed and set aside the Aug. 4, 2017 decision of the Office of the Ombudsman that found substantial evidence of grave misconduct and of conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service and ordered Redrico dismissed from the service.

The graft court also cancelled his civil service eligibility, forfeited his retirement benefits, and disqualified him from re-employment in the government service.

The Obmbudsman also subsequently denied his motion for reconsideration, prompting Redrico, through counsel Atty. Rizalina Velasco-Tañon, to seek recourse with the Court of Appeals.

In favoring the former Catanduanes DE, the appeals court found that a painstaking review of the records shows that the petitioner’s guilt “has not been established by substantial evidence.”

It may be recalled that the complaint filed against him by DPWH Regional Legal Officer Atty. Oliver Rodulfo and contractor Dominic Co stemmed from the bidding of the Rehabilitation/Reconstruction/Upgrading of Damaged Paved National Roads Including Drainage located in Baras town, with the DE accused of withholding award of the project to JD Construction owned by Co and then awarding the same to the second highest bidder, ER Rodriguez Construction.

Aside from the administrative case, a criminal case was also filed against Redrico before the Regional Trial Court in Virac.

Out of the same issue, an administrative complaint filed against Atty. Rodulfo resulted in the latter’s suspension for six months, which he did not serve after the Ombudsman granted his motion for reconsideration asking that he instead pay a fine equivalent to his salary for six months.

In its ruling, the Court of Appeals said there was no misconduct of prejudicial conduct in the accused’s issuance of his Jan. 5, 2016 resolution that found JD Construction’s protest meritorious and reversed the Bids and Awards Committee’s disqualification of the contractor.

The Court thought that DE Redrico, who is not a lawyer, had good reasons to rely on the advice of Atty. Rodulfo, who allegedly drafted the resolution, as he had the technical and legal acumen necessary in resolving the issue confronting Redrico.

“Records are also bereft of substantiation on the postulations that petitioner blindly signed said resolution,” the CA stated, with his only purpose to rectify the errors he observed in the BAC decision, upon Rodulfo’s recommendation.

It likewise agreed with Redrico’s argument no prejudice could have been suffered by JD Construction by his issuances as there was no approved contract yet for the project and the contractor had yet to be served a Notice to Proceed.

Rodulfo’s contention that in engaging ER Rodriguez Construction, the government had to pay more since its bid was significantly higher “deserves scant consideration,” ponente Associate Justice Robeniol stressed.

“Declaring as the winning bidder an otherwise disqualified one would be more likely prejudicial to the government,” the appeals court pointed out, as Redrico would have committed grave misconduct is he, despite being aware of an error, stood by his prior action even if besmirched by a mistake.

The former Catanduanes DE has yet to file his retirement despite being removed from office by the Ombudsman and will likely report to the DPWH regional office following the favorable decision by the CA. However, the criminal case against him is still being heard at RTC Branch 43 in Virac.

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