Three elected officials – Vice Governor Dionisio D. Balite and the vice mayors of Maribojoc and Loay, Jose R. Veloso and Brigido Z. Imboy respectively will start serving their 9 months suspension without pay in compliance with the Ombudsman decision on November 24, 2015 approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales on January 16, 2017.
DILG Regional Director Atty. Rene K. Burdeos directed DILG Provincial Director Ma. Loisella E. Lucino to immediately serve the implementation order of DILG Undersecretary Austere A. Panadero together with the original copy of the Ombudsman decision not later than May 10, 2017.
Burdeos also directed Lucino to issue a notice to assume to their next-in-rank successors of Balite, Veloso and Imboy.
The three elected officials were former members of the 2006 Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP).
Also included in the suspension order to be implemented by the DILG were then 2009 SP members, now Provincial Administrator Alfonso R. Damalerio ll and Executive Assistant for Health Cesar Tomas M. Lopez.
The Ombudsman also directed Governor Edgar M. Chatto to implement the suspension order against Abraham D. Clarin, Head of the Provincial Motorpool and Laura Saramosing-Boloyos, Supply Officer lV, all members of the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) in 2006 and 2009.
Four other officials who are now separated from the service and the suspension order can no longer be enforced – former Vice Governor Concepcion Lim. former Board Members Felix Uy and Godofreda Tirol and retired Administrative Officer Felix Mejorada will be fined an amount equivalent to their salary for six months payable to the Office of the Ombudsman.
The DILG proceeded with the implementation of the decision after denying an appeal from the respondent officials to put off their suspension pending resolution of their motion for reconsideration by the Ombudsman.
The decision stemmed from an administrative complaint filed by the Field Investigation Office (FIO) of the Ombudsman against the suspended officials for alleged irregularities in the procurement of one unit hydraulic excavator (backhoe) with breaker in 2006 and several pieces of heavy equipment in 2009.
The charge against then Governor Erico Aumentado who was the Head of the Procuring Entity (HOPE) was not pursued in view of his death on December 25, 2012.
ARROYO ORDER IGNORED
Aumentado allegedly accepted the payment arrangement as proposed by the winning bidder, Civic Merchandising, Inc.(CMI) for the supply and delivery of a backhoe and breaker in 2006 through an irrevocable letter of credit (LC) as mode of payment.
Aumentado sought authorization from the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) despite the existence of a Memorandum Order (MO) No. 119 series of 2003 issued by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo expressly prohibiting the issuance of an LC to any local and foreign suppliers with respect to any procurement.
LETTER OF CREDIT
In the 2006 procurement, the Ombudsman found the 2006 members of the SP disregarding the Arroyo MO for issuing Resolution No. 2006-387 authorizing Aumentado to open an LC with the Philippine National Bank (PNB) Cebu Branch in the amount of PhP9,410,560.00 including incidental expenses for opening and negotiation charges amounting to PhP74,498.15.
In 2009, the Arroyo MO was amended and allowed the use of LC’s in favor of a local or foreign supplier provided that the cost for the opening of the LC shall be for the account of the local or foreign supplier.
But according to the Ombudsman, the members of the 2009 SP with then Vice Governor Julius Cesar Herrera as presiding officer gave Aumentado the authority through Resolution No. 2009-226 to open an LC with the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) in the amount of PhP147.5 million and debit all opening and negotiation charges of PhP274,024.32.
The Ombudsman rebuked the 2009 SP members for “utter disregard of their duties” of verifying if provisions of the law were followed before passing the assailed resolution evidently causing undue injury to the province.
In their defense, the 2006 SP members stressed that the opening of the LC was both “upon the instance” of Aumentado in 2006 and OIC Herrera in 2009 with their assurance that the procurement process “underwent a judicious and careful verification.”
Following the succession provisions of the Local Government Code, 1st District Board Member Venzencio Arcamo will sit as vice governor, Councilors Atty. Lahar Ayuban and Abraw Arocha for Loay and Maribojoc respectively.
The provincial government is still in the process of choosing the temporary replacements of Damalerio, Lopez, Clarin and Baloyos. (Chito M. Visarra)