Agriculture officials in Davao City charged with graft
MANILA, Philippines – Former and incumbent officials of the Department of Agriculture (DA) Regional Field Unit XI in Davao City were charged with graft over the mishandling of a Davao City lawmaker's Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and other allocations worth P15 million.
The Office of the Ombudsman said in a statement on Wednesday, January 11, that the DA-Davao City officials purchased equipment and other materials in 2005 without conducting pre-procurement and pre-bidding conferences.
They also failed to publish an invitation to bid as required under the Government Procurement Reform Act (Republic Act No. 9184).
Facing multiple counts of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019) are:
- Roger Chio (former Regional Executive Director) - 4 counts
- Romulo Palcon (former Regional Technical Director) - 3 counts
- Alma Mahinay (Chief, Finance Division) - 4 counts
- Godofredo Ramos (Administrative Officer) - 4 counts
- Onofre Nugal (Chief, Agricultural Engineering Division) - 2 counts
- Jamie Bergonio (former Chief Agriculturist) - 1 count
- Isagani Basco (former Chief Administrative Officer) - 1 count
More than P12 million of the P15 million fund came from the PDAF of Davao Oriental 2nd District Representative Joel Mayo Almario, while the remaining was sourced from the lawmaker's share of the GMA Rice and Corn program implemented under the Arroyo administration.
Prosecutors found that the officials facilitated the procurement of the following:
- 100 units of multimedia system with computer set - P10 million (from Almario's PDAF)
- Water system materials - P2.591 million (from Almario's PDAF)
- 81 units of personalized 10x20 livelihood tent with framing - P2.496 million (from Almario's share from the corn program)
The respondents earlier admitted there was no pre-procurement conference, but claimed they "did not have any involvement in the bidding process." Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said the defense was "untenable."
"The wanton disregard of a plain and simple policy of the law that defeated the principle of transparency and competitiveness in the procurement process is sufficient to establish that respondents acted with evident bad faith, manifest partiality or gross inexcusable negligence," the Ombudsman said.
A separate complaint against Almario over the same issue is still undergoing fact-finding investigation.
Almario earlier irked Morales when the lawmaker asked her the meaning of Ombudsman during the agency's budget briefing at the House of Representatives. Morales told Almario to google it. – Rappler.com