The chairman of the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) of the municipality of Panglao was pulled out from the list of suspended government officials earlier released by the Office of the Ombudsman.
Two conflicting copies of a joint resolution from the Office of the Ombudsman suspending five top officials of the municipality of Panglao is now the center of controversy after one of the five respondents was excluded from the suspension order implemented by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
One resolution found the head of the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) together with it’s members liable for simple misconduct and was penalized with a three month suspension while another cleared the same head of the BAC from suspension.
Four of the respondents stared in disbelief at the DILG order signed by DILG Vll Regional Director Atty. Rene K. Burdeos that left out the name of Catalino Sumaylo, municipal budget officer and chair of the BAC from those ordered suspended by the Office of the Ombudsman.
One of the respondents, requesting anonymity told the Chroncle ” the resolution that was the basis of the DILG order exonerated Sumaylo from the administrative complaint, leaving the rest of us in the dark without any justification why, as members of the BAC we were suspended while the BAC chair’s case was dismissed”.
The Ombudsman ordered a 90 day suspension against Sumaylo including BAC members, Rogelio Bonao, municipal engineer; Rena Guivencan, municipal treasurer; Dionisia Estopito, disbursing officer and Rene Lustre, administrative assistant Vl.
The suspension order was contained in a ten page joint resolution approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales on January 19, 2016 against the five officialsÂ for their roles in the purchase of a brand new 2008 seven sitter KIA Sorento EX for the use of the Mayor’s office during the term of former Mayor Benedicto Alcala without public bidding.
The Chronicle obtained copies of both resolutions, one that was received by the respondents from the Office of the Ombudsman suspending the five officials and a copy of the Ombudsman resolution without the name of Sumaylo.
The resolution that omitted the name of Sumaylo was attached to the DILG memorandum directing all concerned officials to comply with the order of suspension.
Upon closer scrutiny, the resolutions were of different font size. The resolution received by the respondent officials from the Ombudsman were printed with smaller font size as compared to the bigger font size on the resolution attached to the DILG memorandum that omitted the name of Sumaylo.
The Ombudsman joint resolution omitting the name of Sumaylo was referred to the DILG by Assistant Ombudsman, Jennifer Jardin-Manalili on January 22, 2016.
The DILG memorandum also directed the concerned appointive officials to “cease the performance of powers and functions appurtenant thereto, immediately upon receipt hereof”.
Both Burdeos and DILG Bohol Sub-Regional Office Provincial Director Ma. Loisella Lucino were clueless on the existence of the Ombudsman resolution where Sumaylo’s name appeared as among the five officials meted the penalty of three months suspension.
The DILG Regional Office, according to Burdeos will conduct an investigation on the apparent mix-up saying “I was informed by Provincial Director Lucino about the two resolutions and if the situation warrants we will make the necessary corrections”
For her part Lucino told the Chronicle “the memorandum implementing the suspension was based on a certified true copy from the Ombudsman. We were not aware of the other copy”.
Lucino upon receipt of the directive from Burdeos served the Ombudsman suspension order to the four respondents on March 3, 2016 with the name of Sumaylo omitted in the attached Ombudsman resolution.
Citing the dispositive portion, the DILG order on February 24, 2016 implementing the Ombudsman joint resolution stated ” . . . Likewise, Rogelio S. Bonao, Rena D. Guivencan, Dionisia H. Estopito and Rene B. Lustre are found Liable for Simple Misconduct and meted the penalty of Three (3) Months Suspension from the service. . .”
Attached was the Ombudsman Joint Resolution stamped Â “Office of the Ombudsman Certified True Copy of the Original” signed by Israel Â L. Pobre, OMB-PROPER and also stamped “certified true copy” signed by Atty. Aiza Fiel A. Arcenal-Nogra, Regional Legal Officer Attorney lV of DILG-7.
In direct contrast, the same resolution received by the five respondents from the Ombudsman stated in the dispositive portion “. . . Likewise, Catalino A. Sumaylo, Rogelio S. Bonao, Rena D. Guivencan, Dionisia H. Estopito and Rene B. Lustre are found Liable for Simple Misconduct and meted the penalty of Three (3) Months Suspension from the service . . .”
The Ombudsman resolution as received by the respondents was stamped “Office of the Ombudsman Certified True Copy of the Original” and also signed by Israel L. Pobre, OMB-PROPER.
According to Lucino, the suspension order was served to Estopito and Lustre but the order for Bonao and Guivencan were held in abeyance considering that their appointments originates from the Department of Public Highways in the case of Bonao and the Bureau of Local Government Finance for Guivencan”.
The Chronicle learned that Bonao and Guivencan filed a one month leave of absence pending the resolution of their motions filed before the Ombudsman.
The criminal and administrative case stemmed from a complaint from the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas Public Assistance and Corruption Prevention Office (PACPO).
PACPO alleged that based on the 2008 Annual Audit Report (AAR) of the Commission on Audit (COA), Alcala, Jovencia Asilo, Municipal Planning and Development Officer and the five members of the BAC headed by Sumaylo violated several provisions of RA No. 9184 (Government Procurement Reform Act).
The complaint also alleged that the purchase of the vehicle did not undergo public bidding but thru direct contracting as recommended by the BAC.
The four respondents ordered suspended by the Ombudsman pointed an accusing finger at Sumaylo for assuring them that the requirements of direct contracting had been complied with in the purchase of the KIA Sorento.
The deal, insisted Sumaylo assured the government of the best possible quality at the lowest possible price based on the opinion of Lorna Piezas, Auditor lll of the Province of Bohol.
But the Ombudsman disagreed with the respondents and found probable cause against Alcala and the five members of the BAC for violation of RA 3019, Section 3(E) and substantial evidence of misconduct.
The Ombudsman resolution found substantial evidence of misconduct in the purchase of the KIA Sorento through direct contracting and specifying the brand name of the SUV.
The funding for the purchase of the KIA Sorento, according to the Ombudsman was improperly sourced since it violated a joint memorandum circular issued by the DBM and DILG stating that the 20% development fund shall be set aside for social and economic development and environmental management.
Also, the purchase of a motor vehicle is not included among those listed as an allowable expense, according to the Ombudsman resolution
The Ombudsman downgraded the respondents liability to simple misconduct considering that the complainants failed to establish that their actions were motivated by corruption, willful intent to violate the law or to disregard established rules, according to the Ombudsman.
Decisions of the Ombudsman in administrative cases is immediately executory pending appeal and may not be stayed by the filing of an appeal or the issuance of an injunctive writ.
However, the administrative case against Alcala who signed the purchase request as the requesting party and approving authority was ordered dismissed by the Ombudsman.
Alcala’s administrative case was dismissed since at the time the complaint was docketed on April 29, 2014 he was no longer a public officer and the Ombudsman had no administrative jurisdiction over him.
The criminal and administrative case against Asilo was dismissed by the Ombudsman on the grounds that her participation was limited only to recommending the Annual Procurement Plan (APP) for approval.
But the Ombudsman found probable cause against Alcala together with the five BAC members for violation of section 3(e) of RA 3019 known as the Anti Graft and Corrupt Practices Act with the criminal information to be filed before the Sandiganbayan.
Speculations are rife that the latest fiasco involving two conflicting resolutions of the Ombudsman involved unseen hands trying to shield a favored official from prosecution.
With the governments effort to curb corruption gaining ground, the obvious tampering of official government documents has dampened the rising trust and confidence of the public in institutions mandated to fight graft and corruption.Â (Chito M. Visarra)