Ex-TESDA provincial director, wife convicted over accreditation mess
02 February 2018
Edwin Villanueva, former Provincial Director of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) in Aklan, and his wife, Nida Villanueva, were convicted by the Sandiganbayan of violation Section 3(d) of the Anti-Graft and Corruption Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019). The Villanueva spouses were sentenced to imprisonment of six to 10 years, with the accessory penalty of perpetual disqualification from holding public office.
Court records show that in September 2010, Nida accepted employment as in-house competency assessor of Rayborn-Agzam Center (RACE), a private competency assessment center with pending official business before the TESDA in Aklan. A scrutiny of its articles of incorporation shows that Nida was a member of RACE’s board of directors. Accused Edwin likewise accredited RACE as one of TESDA’s training agencies, with his wife Nida serving as RACE In-House Assessor for Food and Beverages Service NC II and receiving honorarium of P1,000.00 per month. Edwin also went so far as to appoint Nida as TESDA’s competency assessor for RACE from July to October 2011 for which she received a fee of P250.00 for every candidate assessed.
The Sandiganbayan junked Edwin’s defense of lack of knowledge of his wife’s employment with RACE for being implausible. “Inasmuch as we presume regularity in the performance of the duties of the provincial Director, the only conclusion that can be drawn is that Edwin is familiar with the incorporation documents of RACE and was therefore, already aware of his wife’s involvement with RACE, when he gave his indorsement,” the Court ruled. It cited jurisprudential doctrine that “it is not the knowledge of the public official of his relative’s employment that is controlling, but the mere fact of employment of the family member in the private entity having official business with public official.”
“The acts of Edwin and Nida, from Nida’s agreement to be RACE’s incorporator/stockholder and member of the Board of Directors, the subsequent endorsement to SEC by Edwin, Nida’s entering into a Contract of Employment with RACE, and Edwin’s recommendation to approve of the accreditation of RACE, show conspiracy between the two accused,” the anti-graft court added.
Section 3(d) of R.A. No. 3019 provides that it shall be unlawful for any public officer or employee to accept or have any member of his family accept employment in a private enterprise which has pending official business with him during the pendency thereof or within one year after its termination. ###