LEGAZPI CITY—Secretary Mark Villar has relieved three officers of the Department of Public Works and Highways in the Bicol region, more than a month after he was told his agency is the most corrupt in the region.
DPWH regional director Reynaldo Tagudando, assistant regional director Armando Estrella, and legal officer Oliver Rodulfo were dismissed in Special Orders No. 17 and 18 signed by Villar on Feb. 23, according to the department’s website.
Region 13 director Danilo Versola will replace Tagudando and Marinduque district engineer Esmeraldo Sarmiento will succeed Estrella in an acting capacity, the orders added.
Rodulfo, who had been openly feuding with Tagudando, will be reassigned to Cebu and will be replaced by Atty. Eulogio Laboga of the DPWH Region 8 office.
Tagudando could not be contacted for comment, while Estrella confirmed he and the former were both relieved. He said Tagudando would be reassigned to the Bureau of Research and Standards, “while I am still blank on where to be reassigned,” he said in a telephone interview on Friday.
On Jan. 14, Villar met Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption founding chairman Dante Jimenez by chance at the Legazpi airport. There, Jimenez told the secretary “that DPWH is the most corrupt in Bicol,” a dialogue reportedly witnessed by Estrella, Rodulfo, Godofredo Beltran of the construction division, Albay district engineer Simon Arias, and engineer Ogbon Relativo.
The VACC chair also asked Villar to investigate the controversial P50-million Naga City River flood control project, which had collapsed. Villar met with regional and district engineering executives in Legazpi on January 13, but declined interviews with local journalists.
Rodulfo charged Tagudando, the former chief of DPWH in the National Capital Region, before the Ombudsman last year for anomalous promotions of engineers within the region, which Tagudando countered with a disbarment charge against the legal offers for “insinuating complaints without basis.”
In a letter to Villar last Oct. 17, Rodulfo said Bicol DPWH “is rocked with many scandals” and offered to be a whistleblower and witness against Tagudando.
Estrella, who has two years left in service before retirement, was among four aspirants for regional director to replace Tagudando, who had criticized his reassignment to Bicol after being relieved as NCR regional director in 2015.