Ombudsman affirms decision to indict ex-SRA chief

Gilbert Bayoran - The Philippine Star
Ombudsman affirms decision to indict ex-SRA chief
Photo from the website of Sugar Regulatory Administration shows Hermenegildo Serafica.
Sugar Regulatory Administration

BACOLOD CITY, Philippines — The Office of the Ombudsman has affirmed its earlier decision indicting former Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) chief Hermenegildo Serafica for the delay in the procurement of farming tools worth P5.7 million.

The ombudsman said Serafica violated Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act, which penalizes public officials for delaying without cause the awarding of contracts beyond the prescribed period of the bidding process.

Records showed the invitation to bid for the procurement of harrowers was opened from Aug. 23 to Sept. 13, 2017, but the notice to proceed was only issued on Sept. 3, 2020.

In a motion dated Sept. 26, 2023, Serafica argued that the delay in the award of the contract was due to circumstances beyond his control and should be met with consideration.

Serafica blamed red tape and unnecessary bureaucratic processes in the SRA as early as 2017.

Due to alleged changes in management, Serafica said he could not micromanage and supervise all processes in the SRA.

He attributed the delay to a series of changes in the composition of the bids and awards committee (BAC), which he said affected the endorsement of pending accountabilities.

The depletion in the number of SRA personnel due to the early retirement program of the agency was one of the factors for the delay, he said.

Serafica said the pandemic also contributed to the difficulties in carrying out the operations in the SRA, noting he could not act without authorization from the board.

He said it was only on Aug. 24, 2020 that the BAC recommended to the head of the procuring entity the issuance of the notice to proceed.

In the resolution dated Oct. 26, 2023, the ombudsman said there was no evidence supporting Serafica’s allegations of deferments and suspensions.

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