Anti-graft crusader: NIA exec demands, receives ‘kickbacks’

An anti-corruption activist has alleged that the Bohol-based regional manager of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) had received “kickbacks” for government projects undertaken by Boholano contractors.

“Now that (NIA Manager Modest) Membreve was reassigned and back to his old post here in Bohol, it is high time to expose his corruption and weed out an undeserving person from public office,” according to a complaint-affidavit filed by Engineer Petronilo Sarigumba before the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas.

Text messages sent by The Bohol Tribune to Membreve seeking his reaction remain unanswered as of press time.

Asking the Ombudsman to place Membreve under preventive suspension, Sarigumba alleged that Membreve’s “acts of demanding and receiving kickbacks and the illegal exaction of 10 % equity participation from local contractors are acts which constitute serious dishonesty, grave misconduct and conduct unbecoming of a public officer which deserves no less than the penalty of dismissal from public office and imprisonment.”

Sarigumba said that an association of contractors, in which he is serving as president, has authorized him to file criminal and administrative complaints against Membreve.

The association, the complainant told the Ombudsman, is “greatly distressed with the reassignment of Membreve as the Regional Manager of National Irrigation Administration of Bohol for, in the past, he has made known himself to be a corrupt public official who unscrupulously demands for money from local contractors of Bohol in the form of kickbacks.”

Sarigumba in his sworn statement claimed that many construction companies in Bohol “had fallen prey to the scheme of Membreve during the time when the latter was the Regional Manager of the agency way back in the years 2009 and 2011.”

“While many of my brethren contractors are pissed off by the corruption perpetuated by Membreve, yet only a few have mustered the courage to speak out the truth for fear of reprisal,” noted Sarigumba.

According to Sarigumba, Membreve himself called him and demanded that his S.O.P. of 10 percent be delivered to NIA Manager’s office, or the latter “will not sign the pertinent papers for the release of the full payment of the project.” The accuser disclosed to the Ombudsman that Membreve allegedly demanded the “kickback” during the construction of the Spill Way of the Zamora Small Irrigation Project in Talibon, Bohol.

“Pressured and coerced by the demand of Membreve, I gave in and delivered at the NIA-Bohol Office located at Dao District, Tagbilaran City, P50,000 in cold cash directly to Membreve who readily accepted the same without qualms,” Sarigumba wrote to the Ombudsman.

He said such act of “demanding and receiving of any money in form of kickbacks is a blatant violation of Section 3(b) of Republic Act No. 3019, otherwise known as the “Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.”

 

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