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MANILA, Philippines – Eight officials of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) will face suspension instead of dismissal, after they failed to properly follow procurement rules for rescue equipment and other services worth P125 million.
The Court of Appeals (CA) modified the earlier resolution of the Office of the Ombudsman last November 25, which ordered the dismissal of Commodore Enrico Efren Evangelista; Captains Noli Casiano, Ramon Reblora, Angelito Gil, Joeven Fabul, Ramon Reblora, and Teotima Borja Jr; and Commodore Ramon Lopez for grave misconduct.
These officials of the PCG’s Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) were linked to alleged irregularities in the bidding and delivery of equipment for the Special Maritime Advance Rescue Team (SMART).
But in a 19-page decision, the CA 9th Division said: “While this Court accords great respect to the factual findings of administrative agencies that misconduct was committed, we cannot characterize the offense as grave.”
It also added that “no substantial evidence” was found to support the corruption allegations.
“Clear intent to violate the law or flagrant disregard of established rule that must be present to characterize the misconduct as grave,” the CA explained.
The Ombudsman’s investigation came after the Commission on Audit (COA) found that the BAC officials violated the Government Procurement Reform Act or Republic Act 9184.
COA’s audit showed that:
- observers were not invited and present during the opening of bids
- delivery of SMART items was not complete
- invitation to bid was published through a tabloid
- winning bidder does not seem to be a legitimate business establishment
- officials sent letters of invitations to suppliers for the procurement
But the CA said the lack of bid observers does not nullify the proceedings of the bidding. It also ruled that there is no evidence linking the accused to the winning bidders.
“Absent any conspiracy with herein petitioners, the inspection and acceptance team alone may be held liable for the reported short delivery of the SMART items,” said the CA. – Rappler.com