Thursday, February 07, 2008

TESDA chief cleared of graft charge

ILOILO CITY, Philippines -- Malacañang dismissed the corruption case filed against Technical Education and Skills Development Authority Director General Augusto Syjuco in connection with the printing of his book, "Salabat for the Filipino Soul," that cost TESDA P9.2 million.

Acting on the instant motion for reconsideration filed by Syjuco, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, through a resolution dated January 30, 2008, cleared Syjuco of his involvement in the case.

Ermita said that while it was true that TESDA paid for the printing of Syjuco's book, it was the TESDA bids and awards committee as a collegial body that allowed the transaction. Hence, he said, there was no case for gross neglect of duty against Syjuco.

"Bad faith can never be presumed. Since it was not proven, the benefit of the doubt should favor regularity in the performance of their duties. The modification of the assailed decision, with respect to Syjuco, is warranted," Ermita said.

Syjuco earlier maintained he should not be held liable since he did not gain financially from the printing of the book that was distributed for free to TESDA students. The book, which encourages out-of-school-youth to take vocational courses, is being used as a guidebook on the ladderized education initiated by TESDA.

But the five members of the TESDA bids and awards committee (BAC) remained liable for approving the P9.2-million printing transaction without any bidding, the resolution said.

The resolution, a copy of which was furnished to the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Wednesday, said that Presidential Management Staff head Cerge Remonde, chair of the Committee of Peers, sent a memorandum dated January 23, 2008 to the Office of the President referring Syjuco's motion for reconsideration for appropriate action.

Malacañang earlier elevated Syjuco's case for resolution to the Committee of Peers on the account of his rank even as it approved the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission (PAGC) ruling that found Syjuco's co-respondents as liable for corruption.

Malacañang upheld PAGC's decision, which recommended the dismissal and forfeiture of the leave credits of the five TESDA-BAC members and barred them from future employment in the government.
By David Israel Sinay - Philippine Daily Inquirer

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