Ombudsman bans LP stalwart Alcala from gov’t
The Office of the Ombudsman has meted out a lifetime ban from government against former Agriculture Secretary and Liberal Party stalwart Proceso Alcala over two cases of procurement anomalies.
Alcala, who served during the Aquino administration, was held administratively liable for grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service in two separate decisions, the Ombudsman media bureau said Monday.
The dismissal penalty for each case is convertible to a fine equivalent to one year’s salary.
In one case, Alcala was held liable for the alleged diversion of P13.5 million to a foundation connected to his head executive assistant Laureano Arnulfo Mañalac.
The funds were meant for the construction of the Quezon Corn Trading and Processing Center in partnership with Isa Akong Magsasaka Foundation in 2012 to 2013. The center was built on a private lot owned by the foundation’s president Bautista Ella.
Conflict of interest
Mañalac, however, turned out to be Ella’s son-in-law and one of the foundation’s incorporators. He even allegedly issued the official receipts acknowledging the receipt of the funds.
Investigators also found the construction of the center on private land to be contrary to the principle that public funds shall be used solely for a public purpose.
Alcala claimed that Mañalac already resigned on Oct. 1, 2012, prior to certifying the foundation’s compliance with the accreditation requirements for the award of the DA project on Nov. 5, 2012.
But, the Ombudsman said this reasoning was “of no moment,” because when the foundation applied to be a partner on Sept. 27, 2012, Mañalac was still Alcala’s head executive assistant.
The Ombudsman also held Alcala liable “for not doing anything to investigate any material violation of the [memorandum of agreement] and build a case for the proper legal action that DA could institute against the foundation.”
Irregular pump purchase
The other case concerned the DA’s irregular resort to the alternative procurement method of repeat orders for the purchase of 375 sets of water pumps and engines worth P29.23 million in September 2010.
The Ombudsman faulted Alcala for resorting to negotiated procurement with the contractor Agricom, the supplier for an existing P116.93-million project in April 2010, when only one failure of bidding was declared.
It also questioned why DA invited only Agricom to attend the negotiated procurement proceedings when it was a second bidder also participated in the bidding for the April 2010 contract.
Investigators also found that several inspection and acceptance reports contained dates of acceptance ahead of the dates of inspection.
The Ombudsman did not give credence to Alcala’s claim that he had no knowledge of the April 2010 procurement and only acted on the recommendations of the bids and awards committee.
“Reliance in good faith on the recommendation of subordinates does not justify non-compliance with the law. As head of agency, much is expected of Alcala,” the Ombudsman said.
Also ordered dismissed from the service were then-Bureau of Soils and Water Management director Silvino Tejada, inspection committee chairman Uldarico Andal, procurement unit head Sonia Salguero, and BAC members Rodelio Carating, Diosdado Manalus and Ernesto Brampio.
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