Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales has ordered the filing of charges against a former Biliran municipal mayor and 12 others for their involvement in the anomalous procurement of medicines worth P7,998,777.26 in 2010.
Facing charges of violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) before the Sandiganbayan is former Maripipi Mayor Noel Albelda.
Also to be charged with the same offense are Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) members, Wilma Elairon, Marietta Campollo, Amelia Bacolod, Sonia Alavera, Julio Cairo, Jr., Sergio Mejarito, and Tito Cairo; Municipal Accountant Michelle Quinte; Municipal Health Officer Mary Grace Llever; and Commission on Audit State Auditor Genelito Balila.
Also included as co-accused are Jerome Capuyan and Cherel Serato, representatives from supplier Suremeds Marketing.
Aside from the criminal case, the respondents, except for Capuyan and Serato, were also ordered dismissed from the service after they were found guilty of administrative case of grave misconduct.
The respondent-local officials were also meted with accessory penalties of perpetual disqualification from holding public office, forfeiture of retirement benefits and cancellation of civil service eligibility.
In case of separation from the service, the penalty is convertible to a fine equivalent to the respondent’s salary for one year.
Investigation showed that in June 2010, the municipality purchased the multi-million peso worth medicines funded through the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of Biliran Rep. Glenn Chong.
The project was awarded to Suremeds despite several substantial lapses in the procurement process including irregularity in the dates appearing in the bidding documents.
Investigators noted that the purchase request, notice of eligibility, minutes of the meeting, post qualification report, BAC resolution, notice of award and even the purchase order were all dated June 15, 2010.
Other procurement irregularities noted include the (1) the conduct of pre-bid conference prior to the issuance of bidding documents; (2) sudden change in the date of opening of bids without any bid bulletins issued; (3) award of project to Suremeds despite its non-submission of performance security; and (4) several steps in the procurement process, up to the opening of bids, took place before any purchase request was issued.
Morales said that “the circumstances present the disturbing picture that not only did public respondents ignore the discrepancies in the bidding documents submitted by Suremeds, but that information regarding the procurement that was to take place from May to June 2010 was already made known to Suremeds as early as March 2010.”
“As to COA Auditor Balila, all throughout the procurement process, [his] hand as the auditor could be seen, as majority of the documents pertaining to the subject procurement had been marked pre-audited by him on 22 June 2010,” as stated in the resolution.
The Ombudsman added that Balila was charged for not having noticed or minded at all, the numerous discrepancies and irregularities attending the subject procurement despite having pre-audited the documents, and allowing the payment to be disbursed.