Ronda BAC members suspended

Michael Vencynth H. Braga (The Freeman) - February 18, 2017 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - The Office of the Ombudsman in the Visayas has suspended for one month five bidding committee members of the Municipality of Ronda over their failure to post bid notices on a government procurement system website.

Lawyer Eileen Mae Lagat-Alde, Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer, found Municipal Engineer Oscar Pilapil, Municipal Budget Officer Thelma Landiza, Municipal Assistant Treasurer Brigida Cabaron, Frauline Requilme (Clerk II), and Evelina Tan (Utility Worker I), all Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) members, guilty of simple neglect of duty.

“(Respondent BAC members) are meted with suspension from work for one month with a stern warning that repetition or commission of the same or similar offense would be dealt with more severely,” read part of Alde’s resolution.

The anti-graft office, however, dismissed the complaint against Ronda Mayor Mariano Blanco for lack of evidence.

The case stemmed from the complaint of Jonald Ungab, who is a relative of Blanco, for violation of Republic Act 6713 or Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

In his complaint, Ungab alleged that the BAC members violated Republic Act 9184 (Government Procurement Reform Act of 2003) and its implementing rules and regulations for the repeated failure to post all the procurement opportunities of the local government of Ronda in the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System (PhilGEPS) website.

He said that only one invitation was posted at the PhilGEPS’ electronic bulletin board out of the 16 invitations to bid of various biddings conducted by the BAC from 2012 to 2013. The remaining invitations were posted only on the bulletin board of the municipality.

The contracts subject for bidding included supply of materials for a school buildings, procurement of medicines, materials for maintenance of public buildings and construction of facilities, among others.

Ungab said the failure to post the notices indicated that there were manipulations in the bidding process to favor certain contractors.

He added that posting of the invitation to bid only at the bulletin board of the municipality lacks transparency and competitiveness since bid announcements are confined at the premises of the municipality only.

He said the BAC deliberately prevented the wide dissemination of the bid announcement so as not to draw the attention and interest of qualified contractors.

In their joint affidavit, the BAC members denied the complainant’s accusations, insisting that they consistently complied with the bidding procedures, adding that they acted in good faith and without malice.

Blanco, for his part, invoked the Aguinaldo doctrine, arguing that the case against him should be dismissed since he was re-elected in the May 2013 elections.

But the anti-graft committee found that although print-outs of the bid notice abstracts for procurement were presented, it showed that the status of the bid notices were all “in preparation.”

This means that a notice was created but was not actually posted.

“The Office is aware of the policy that in promoting transparency and efficiency, information and communications technology such as the PhilGEPS should be utilized in the conduct of procurement activities," the anti-graft office stated.

Hence, posting in the website is mandated for all government procurement in consonance with the principles of transparency and competitiveness,” it added.

The anti-graft office, however, noted that even if there was failure to post the bid notices in the website, the invitations to apply for eligibility and to bid were posted at the bulletin board of the municipality.

Notices were also sent to the Commission on Audit every time bidding was to be conducted, which showed that BAC stated the dates of the posting of the invitation to supply and bid.

With this evidence presented, the Ombudsman ruled simple neglect of duty on the part of the BAC members. (FREEMAN)

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