DPWH regional exec faces complaint for 'throwing cash in the air' at a party

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 29 2020 06:29 PM

The Office of the Ombudsman's main building in Quezon City. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — A councilor of a Quezon town on Thursday filed a complaint against a Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) regional director due to his alleged partisanship and unethical behavior, citing an incident where the respondent supposedly threw "cash in the air" at a party. 

In the complaint filed before the Office of the Ombudsman, Lopez, Quezon councilor Arkie Manuel Yulde accused DPWH Region 1 director Ronnel Tan of giving away cash worth P2 to 3 million at a party hosted by him and his solon wife in Quezon. 

The case was filed as the DPWH faced a corruption investigation. 

"Due to his excitement, respondent shouted to the guests, 'pag-agawan ninyo itong pera' (fight over this cash) then he threw the cash in the air such that the guests will be fighting over, picking up as [much] cash they can get," Yulde said.

The complainant also said the event was attended by mayors of the province, as the respondent's wife, Helen, is the 4th district representative of Quezon.

"He is a government employee, he is a government official, ngayon nagpapa-agaw ka ng perang ganong kalaki, mayroon tayong (now you give away that much cash, we have a) presumption of ill-gotten wealth, it is up for him to explain," said Yulde's lawyer Alfredo Villamor.

PARTISANSHIP 

The complaint also alleged that Tan prohibited barangay chairmen in the district to attend any meeting or conference with incumbent Gov. Danilo Suarez.

"The said barangay captains were further warned that if they attend such meeting with Governor Suarez, their barangays would no longer receive projects from his wife, congresswoman Helen Tan and that they could expect to have political opponents come barangay election as respondent and his wife will put up opponents against them," Yulde said. 

Yulde said the Ombudsman should investigate Tan for violations of Republic Act No. 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees; Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act; Republic Act No. 7160 or the Local Government Code; and grave misconduct. 

"We find this very timely in connection with the thrust of the government to investigate corruption, particularly in the Department of Public Works and Highways," Villamor said.

DENIAL

Tan, however, denied there was a party and that he gave away P2 to 3 million in a "money-throwing" incident.

"Wala po, kapag may okasyon nagbibigay ng regalo kami, 'yung asawa ko, syempre congresswoman asawa ko, kung may nahingi ng tulong... Napakarami naman ng sinasabing P3 milyon na 'yon para ipaagaw mo nang ganon, di ba?" Tan told ABS-CBN News in a phone interview.

(That's not true. When there's an occasion we give gifts, of course my wife is a congresswoman, when someone asks for help... And the P3 million they are saying is too much to be given away like that.)

He also noted that an official of the DPWH has no power to influence local politics, specifically barangay chiefs.

"Wala naman siguro sa kapangyarihan ko yon, ako’y nasa DPWH wala naman ako sa DILG... Parang napakahirap sa aking magbawal sa pagpunta lalo namang gobernador naman 'yon," Tan said.

(That's not within my powers... I am with DPWH, not the DILG... It would be hard for me to bar people from going especially that's the governor.)

Asked why he is being accused of wrongdoing, Tan said it might be connected to the perceived political plans of his wife.

He said that they are ready to face the complaint and to file their counter-affidavit if asked by the Ombudsman.

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