NOTE: THIS STORY WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE BOHOL CHRONICLE’S SUNDAY PRINT EDITION. EDITING AND PROOFREADING WAS DONE BY BC’S PRINT ARM.
Gov. Arthur Yap is awaiting his copy of a formal complaint on alleged graft and corruption filed against him and other Capitol officials at the Office of the Ombudsman by former City Mayor Dan Neri Lim.
A 12-page complaint-affidavit executed by Lim has defined the administration of Gov. Yap, as involved in various irregular and corrupt practices made with his full knowledge and consent since his assumption into office.
Lim accused Yap, Provincial Administrator Kathryn Fe Pioquinto, the Provincial Bids and Awards Committee (BAC), and all those who participated in the approval of the assailed contracts for violation of Section 3(a) and (g) of Republic Act (RA) 3019 known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and Serious Dishonesty and Grave Misconduct as defined by the Civil Service Commission.
According to Republic Act (RA) 9184 known as the “Government Procurement Reform Act”, Article XVI – Alternative Modes of Procurement, Section 48 (e) states that negotiated procurement may be resorted under extraordinary circumstances where the procuring entity directly negotiates a contract with a technically, legally and financially capable supplier or contractor ensuring that the most advantageous price for the government is obtained.
The complaint was filed before the Office of the Ombudsman on Tuesday, March 16, 2021.
Supported by 12 annexes, Lim cited 5 alleged anomalous contracts amounting to P114 million for the purchase of motorcycles, a communication and security system, ambulance, rental of light and sound system, and mobile x-rays, all approved by Yap, Pioquinto, and the BAC.
The parties involved in the irregular transactions were identified by Lim as TWIS Trading based in 257 Barangay Sala, Cabuyao City, Laguna, Dexter Trading located in Tamblot St., Cogon District, Tagbilaran City, and PTM Disco Record Center, Lesage St., Tagbilaran City.
In his complaint, Lim claimed that on March 18, 2020, by way of a negotiated sale, the Provincial Government of Bohol (PGBh) approved the procurement of eight (8) units of Honda XRM 125 motorcycles in the amount of P718,000.00 at P89,750.00 per unit.
The Purchase Order (P.O.) dated March 5, 2020, showed that there were two bidding failures with an entry “2nd failure” appearing under the space mode of procurement as “negotiated”.
NO LOCAL SUPPLIERS
Lim found it “very illogical” that the eight motorcycles were purchased from TWIS Trading in Cabuyao City, Laguna rather than local dealers in Bohol that would “only cost about P55,000.00 for a brand new bike and a second-hand bike for P18,000.00” with “no more transportation costs to be added.”
Comparing the market price and the cost as purchased, Lim alleged that “there is an overprice of P34,750.00 per unit or P278,000.00 for the eight units” of the model Honda XRM 125.
Based on the Notice to Proceed (NTP) signed by Atty. Pioquinto as Provincial Administrator by the Authority of the Governor, the eight motorcycles be delivered to the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist.
Described by Lim as a “ghost company” and a favored supplier under Yap’s administration, TWIS Trading, a sole proprietorship owned by a certain Mrs. Marina Salcedo registered a residential address with no office, helpdesk support, showroom, and an unattended phone.
Seven months later, a second project was awarded by the PGBh to the same entity “with a questionable personality”, through a “negotiated sale” for the purchase of a communication and security system with a contract price of P68,714,500.00 which Lim alleged as “the prices of computers based on their specifications are more than the regular and market prices.”
The contract agreement for the Communication and Security System of Tarsier 117 was attached as annex E of Lim’s complaint-affidavit between Yap, signed by Pioquinto representing the PGBh and Salcedo as the proprietor of TWIS Trading, and witnessed by Anthony Damalerio as end-user and Nino Quimson as Information Technology (IT) in-charge on September 25, 2020.
Salcedo personally appeared before Yap in Tagbilaran City as shown in the acknowledgment section of the contract agreement affixing her Community Tax Certificate (CTC) No. 20202607 issued at Cabuyao, Laguna on January 2, 2020.
The contract provides, among its provisions, the advance payment to TWIS Trading by the PGBh of 15% of the total contract price upon approval of the contract price of P68.7M, issuance of Notice to Commence Work, and the posting of an irrevocable standby letter of credit of equivalent value.
The 15% advance payment will be deducted from the “progress payment” of TWIS Trading.
Tarsier (Telephone and Radio System Integrated Emergency Response) 117 is a call and dispatch system to immediately respond to crisis situations and public concerns in Bohol created by Executive Order No. 5 series of 2010 and made official by Provincial Ordinance No. 2013-006.
Another contract was awarded to TWIS Trading for the procurement of a Basic Life Support Ambulance (BLSA) in the amount of P20.9M “that should be scrutinized because a BLSA would not cost that price,” according to Lim in his complaint.
Altogether, TWIS Trading bagged P90.4M of alleged “irregular contracts” awarded by the PGBh through Yap, Pioquinto, and the BAC, through negotiated sales “to justify the procurement”, according to Lim.
The PGBh, “has clearly favored TWIS Trading among other bidders by awarding three projects without ascertaining its capacity to deliver the items” with ‘no indication that it has a legitimate business capable of transacting millions of pesos, thus showing gross negligence,” added Lim.
A local firm, Dexter Trading under the name of Stella Marie Ancla as proprietor manager was awarded under a negotiated contract (emergency canvass) as the bidder with the single calculated and responsive quotation a contract amounting to P22,800,000.00 signed by Pioquinto, by the authority of Yap on June 19, 2020.
According to the Notice of Award marked as Annex J attached to Lim’s affidavit-complaint, the purchase of a mobile x-ray machine was for the use of the Bohol Provincial Health Office to address the ongoing threat of covid-19.
However, Lim discovered that each unit cost P950,000.00 only as shown in his annex L (the posted price of x-ray) instead of P3,798,000.00 incurring an overprice of P2,848,000.00 per unit or a total amount of P17,000,000.00.
Another local firm identified by Lim as PTM Disco Record Center of Ponciano Mercado, Jr. as Proprietor was the three-month delayed issuance of the Notice of Award after the activity was conducted.
Yap approved the award on December 21, 2020, and released it to Mercado as the bidder with the “lowest calculated and responsive quotation” on the same day under a “negotiated canvass” in the amount of P761,000.00.
The Notice of Award marked Annex I was for the “procurement of rental of lights, sounds, monitoring systems and video equipment needed for the Philippine Travel Exchange (PHITEX) of the Bohol Tourism Office.
The PHITEX 2020 was the first online travel trade show during the covid-19 pandemic held in Panglao to showcase the travel and tour protocols implemented in the province.
According to Lim, the activity was held on September 25, 2020, with a screenshot of the closing ceremony under the account of Mark Vincent Ramasola.
But Yap brushed aside Lim’s accusation as politically motivated saying “Dan Lim has been part of the political opposition and he does nothing except to find fault in my administration . . .this is nothing surprising , , , I believe this is not for governance but for political mileage and propaganda,” a saddened Yap revealed to DYRD “InyongAlagad”. (Read: separate story)
Yap also explained his role in the procurement process that “All procurement done by the PGBh goes through the BAC and the governor does not intervene.I do not have a seat in the BAC,” as quoted by a phone interview on GMA News Online.
THE BUCK STOPS HERE
Republic Act (RA) 9184 known as the “Government Procurement Reform Act.” states that the Approved Budget of the Contract (ABC) is duly approved by the Head of the Procuring Entity (HOPE) after passing their respective Sanggunian in the case of the Local Government Unit (LGU).
Bidding documents shall be issued by the Procuring Entity as the basis for bids to be conducted by the BAC designated by the HOPE and in no case shall the approving authority be a member of the BAC.
The BAC shall recommend the award of contracts to the HOPE or to his duly authorized representative and the HOPE may approve or disapprove its recommendations and if disapproved shall be based on valid, reasonable, and justifiable grounds expressed in writing.
PROPENSITY TO MISLEAD
Lim denounced Yap, Pioquinto, and the BAC members for their “disposition to lie, cheat, deceive or defraud, untrustworthiness, lack of integrity, lack of honesty, probity or integrity in principle, lack of fairness and straightforwardness.”
Lim also requested the Ombudsman, considering his limited access to proceedings and documents to examine the validity, legality, and propriety of opting for the alternative mode of the negotiated sale in almost all government transactions entered by the PGBh,” under RA 9184. (Chito M. Visarra)