DPWH Bicol RD sacked

LEGAZPI CITY--Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Rogelio Singson sacked Bicol Regional Director Danilo Dequto after almost four years in office.

DPWH Bicol Regional Director Danilo Dequito
DPWH Bicol Regional Director Danilo Dequito

In a surprise move by one of the most trusted cabinet men of President Benigno Aquino III, Singson issued Special Order 108 dated September 8 pulling out regional director Danilo Dequito from Bicol without clear order for his reassignment, according to a source from Singson's office who made a text message to the PNA Tuesday.

Singson appointed Melvin Navarro from Region 2 as Dequito’s replacement, according to the special order.

Former Dequito’s public affairs officer Romeo Esplana said it was a surprise move of Singson to relieve Dequito, known in DPWH Bicol as untouchable as he managed to stay put in the region for almost four years amid issues of graft and corruption.

The relieved regional director is said to be a classmate of a cabinet secretary and a presidential brother-in-law, said Esplana, who claimed to know of his former boss' connection right within the DPWH.

Dequito, who was then the assistant regional director based in Tacloban City, was pulled out by Singson for the Bicol post to combat corruption under the President's slogan of “Tuwid na daan.”

Despite his lack of a Career Executive Service Office certification, which caused the dismissal from service of many presidential appointees under previous administrations, Dequito became a full-fledged regional director a few months later.

More than a month after his assumption in the region in 2010, Dequito got entangled with the local media he had totally ignored by declaring “the media as the least of my priorities,” said Bicol Correspondents League (BICOL) president Mike Aguilar, who quoted the DPWH executive as telling him in his failed ambush attempt to interview him, as the regional director was then leaving his office for Manila.

Aguilar lamented that Dequito did not even have a single press conference held with the local media since 2010, expressing regrets about the BICOL aborted resolution that would have declared the regional director persona non grata.

Assistant Regional Director Armando Estrella, who claimed he was appointed in Bicol only last April, admitted that the decision to relieve the regional director was a surprise, saying being new in the region, he has busied himself in inspecting projects throughout Bicol.

He refused to elaborate.

Esplana, who joined the Citizens Crime Watch following his retirement last year, had antagonized his former boss by filing a series of letter-complaints against alleged DPWH Bicol's continuing scandals under Dequito’s leadership.

In his letters to President Aquino and Singson last July, Esplana sought to investigate his former boss for disposing through a bidding in 2012 the declared scrap but usable spare parts reportedly extracted from operational heavy equipment in the Masbate Area Equipment Service, which was the subject of his investigation report in 2011.

In his letters, Esplana lamented that the spare parts and alleged scrap materials should have been preserved by Dequito following a formal complaint of plunder filed with the Office of the Ombudsman by DPWH equipment operator-turned-whistleblower Robert Cañesal.

According to documents obtained by the PNA, the plunder complaint implicated 42 top DPWH Bicol officials and employees, Dequito included, for allegedly disposing the preserved scrap materials and spare parts as evidence, the total cost of which was estimated at Php 150 million.

The documents said the scrap materials disposal was won by a bidder from Region III for a measly Php 900,000, including scrap materials from Catanduanes and Camarines Norte.

In support of the plunder complaint, Esplana told the President that the poor whistleblower, who was the major witness in his investigation report, was even suspended for 90 days for refusing to retract his statements regarding the equipment scam covering the period of 10 years up to 2010.

Dequito has reiterated his denial of any involvement in irregularities, saying the suspension of whistleblower Cañesal was not his act but done by the legal division head, Oliver Rodulfo.

RELATED: DPWH RD 5 Dequito, 41 other execs face plunder

Following super Typhoon "Yolanda" last year, Dequito was tapped by Singson to handle the rush construction of bunk houses in the badly devastated Tacloban, which former Senator Panfilo Lacson described later as wanting and substandard. (PNA)

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