Ombudsman suspends ARTA chief for 6-months over DITO complaint

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 05 2022 08:45 PM

MANILA - Anti-Red Tape Authority Director General Jeremiah Belgica faces a 6-month preventive suspension order following a complaint filed by DITO Telecommunity Inc before the Office of the Ombudsman.

The order dated May 24, 2022 and signed by Ombudsman Samuel Martires on June 2, 2022, also covers Deputy Director General Eduardo Bringas, Division Chief Sheryl Pura-Sumagui, Director Jedrek Ng and Director Melamy Salvadora-Asperin.

The ARTA officials are facing investigation for grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service after DITO Chief Administrative Officer Adel Tamano accused them of violating Republic Act No. 3018 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

“Thus, in order to secure the documents and to prevent possible harassment of witnesses and considering further that their continued stay in office may prejudice the case filed against them, they are hereby placed under preventive suspension for a period of 6 months pursuant to Section 24 or Republic Act No. 6770 (Ombudsman Act of 1989),” the Ombudsman said.

The Ombudsman said in the order that on March 1, 2021, ARTA issued a resolution and an order of automatic approval ordering the assignment of frequencies by the National Telecommunications Commission to NOW Telecom Company, Inc. as the third major player in the telecommunications industry.

On September 20, 2018, the NTC issued a memorandum circular for the selection process for the new major player and DITO was apparently the only company that participated and was eventually selected.

NOW then filed on May 18, 2020 a complaint against NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordova before the ARTA for the automatic approval of its requests for frequency assignment already assigned to DITO.

The Ombudsman also noted that Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra has also set aside the order of automatic approval that ARTA had issued.

“The evidence on record shows that the guilt of respondents Jeremiah B. Belgica, Eduardo V. Bringas, Sheryl Pura Sumagui, Jedrek C. Ng and Melamy A. Salvadora-Asperin is strong and the charges against them involve grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service which may warrant removal from the service,” the Ombudsmdan said.

A copy of the order was sent to Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea for the immediate implementation of the 6-month preventive suspension of the ARTA officials.

ABS-CBN has reached out to the ARTA but they have yet to issue a statement as of this posting.

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