A former Tagbilaran City elected official filed a plunder complaint against Governor Arthur Yap on Thursday before the Office of the Ombudsman for allegedly engaging in anomalous transactions including rice procurement which amounted to P53 million from two “non-operational” suppliers.
The 13-page complaint filed by former mayor Dan Lim accuses Yap and members of the provincial government’s Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) of committing plunder, graft, serious dishonesty and grave misconduct.
This is the first plunder complaint against Yap who is already facing a battery of charges over allegations of corruption which allegedly transpired between 2003 and 2021.
Plunder which is the accumulation of ill-gotten wealth worth at least P50 million through a combination or series of overt or criminal acts is a non-bailable offense.
Yap, in a statement issued just hours after the complaint was filed, downplayed the new allegations as “harassment” carried out by critics in time for the polls.
“With the elections in 2022 just around the corner, this is expected. This will not however distract me from serving my fellow Boholanos,” Yap said.
Based on Lim’s complaint, the plunder allegation stemmed from the provincial government’s direct purchase of commercial rice worth P50 per kilo supposedly as part of the government’s food aid to Bohol residents amid the pandemic.
The millions of kilos of rice amounted to a total of P195 million and were procured from suppliers from Pagasinan including D Plowman Multipurpose Cooperative (P117 million), All Seasons Federation Cooperative (P35 million), Shining Star Multipurpose Cooperative (P25 million), and Purita Trading (P18 million).
Lim’s suit alleged that based on an ocular inspection, Purita Trading and All Seasons Cooperative which supposedly supplied the province with P53 million worth of rice were found out to be non-operational.
“It was also known that the suppliers are not farmers’ cooperatives and they are based in Pangasinan, instead of buying from the local cooperatives in Bohol or in the Visayas Region,” Lim said.
“There is no proof even whether the said rice were fully delivered to the province, which even entailed a four-month delay in the distribution of rice aid to constituents,” he added.
Lim also alleged that the provincial government,through the Provincial Engineer’s Office, procured overpriced fuel from Petrobest.
Fuel was allegedly purchased by the Capitol at “P61.48 or P62.49 per liter” during a period when prevailing prices were at P46 to P48 per liter.
It was also indicated that there was no difference between the actual pump price and the discounted price.
“When asked for an explanation in an interview by the Bohol Chronicle, a local newspaper, Provincial Engineer Camilo Gasatan claimed that he made a purchase request for diesel fuel only at P52 per liter. He was not able to explain why the actual payments were for P62.19 per liter,” Lim said.
“Lastly, the provincial government used alternative/negotiated procurement in purchasing P5.5 million worth of fuel,” he added.
Lim also claimed that the provincial government contracted Active Events Equipment Rentals (AEER) for the Philippine Travel Exchange (PHITEX) 2020, a virtual conference to promote tourism, in Panglao.
He added that the event was held from Sept. 22, 2020 to September 24, 2020, but the notice of award for the procurement was released on November 6, 2020, almost two months after the event had ended.
“Evidently, there was no contract yet when the provincial government used the services of the company,” Lim said.
The former mayor claimed that AEER is owned by Ae Damalerio, the campaign manager of Yap during the 2019 polls, the former head of the Provincial Emergency Covid Response Management Team, and a representative of the provincial government to the board of directors of Bohol Light Company, Inc.
Lim also alleged that a similar anomalous deal transpired during the celebration of the Ube Festival last year.
He said the provincial government, by virtue of a BAC resolution, contracted Ompoi Disco Mobile (ODM) twice during the festivities in January, 2020.
However, the contracts were only awarded on March 11, 2020 and May 4, 2020.
Lim also claimed that both contracts were signed by one Daisybell Ansalan Pamugas, the daughter-in-law of Larry Pamugas who is a BAC member.
Lim said he hoped the Ombudsman would conduct an investigation on all the transactions to hold those responsible accountable “criminally and administratively if found guilty.”
The Chronicle tried to get further comments from Yap’s camp through Provincial Legal Officer Nilo Ahat and Provincial Administrator Kathyrin Pioquinto but both have not responded to calls and text messages.
Previous ongoing cases
Yap is also facing two counts of graft and one count each of malversation and malversation through falsification of public documents over his alleged involvement in the infamous multi-billion peso Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.
The governor has been accused of helping funnel P62 million in pork barrel funds to bogus non-government organizations (NGOs) during his stint as agriculture secretary from 2007 to 2009.
Less than four months after assuming his post as governor in 2019, Yap was ordered by the Sandiganbayan to undergo a 90-day preventive suspension in relation to the charges.
Bohol’s chief executive is also facing graft charges over the alleged irregular approval of car loan plans to the board of trustees of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) from 2008 to 2009.
Yap has also been implicated in the also notorious fertilizer scam in which he, as then-administrator of the National Food Authority, was involved in the purchase of 92,158 bags of fertilizer for Regions 2 to 5 and the National Capital Region in 2003.
The prosecution alleged that no public bidding was conducted for the transaction. The guidelines in the negotiated mode of procurement also allegedly deviated from the intended invitation of suppliers within the stated NFA regions as bidders.
However, two cases against Yap for similar transactions for fertilizer supply to Visayas and Mindanao have been dismissed.
In March this year, a graft complaint was also filed against Yap and several provincial government officials before the Office of the Ombudsman for allegedly entering into anomalous transactions that wasted public funds amid the pandemic.
The complaint which was also filed by Lim accused Yap and the other officials of violating of Section 3 of Republic Act 3019 or Anti-Graft and Corrupt Act, for serious dishonesty and grave misconduct.
The complaint stemmed from the overpriced and questionable purchases from suppliers with dubious financial, legal, or technical credentials and track record.