Lawmakers say Sereno’s purchase of ‘predetermined’ vehicle violates law
The procurement official of the Supreme Court (SC) has claimed that the acquisition of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno’s P5.2-million security vehicle was “predetermined” and thus, according to House lawmakers, was a violation of the government’s procurement law.
Testifying before the House hearing on the determination of probable cause in Sereno’s impeachment on Wednesday, House justice committee members quizzed SC personnel about Sereno’s availing of a supposedly luxurious vehicle using public funds.
Pressed by House members on whether the Toyota Land Cruiser was already the choice of Sereno’s office for a security vehicle, Ma. Carina Cunanan, procurement head and assistant chief of SC’s administrative services, said: “It was already predetermined, your honor.”
But Cunanan explained that Sereno’s office did not specify the car’s brand in the procurement request. It was the procurement office who asked Sereno’s office about their preferred brand.
Cunanan explained that in the 2016 procurement plan of the high tribunal, it allotted P6 million for transportation equipment to the office of the chief justice. Other justices and SC officials were also given a budget of up to P2 million each for their transportation equipment.
Asked by ABS Rep. Eugene de Vera why Sereno had to purchase a Land Cruiser, Cunanan said they decided to consider the request because Sereno had never requested for a service vehicle since her appointment.
“The procurement of vehicle for the Chief Justice has always been included simply because when she was appointed as CJ, she never requested one,” Cunanan said.
“So in deference to her and by reason of her stature, we had to see to it that there’s also an amount allotted for her in the procurement of a vehicle,” she said.
“So we asked the office of the end user, in the event that we need to procure, and they said it was a Land Cruiser,” she added.
House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas Sr. then pointed out: “When you procure, you don’t give a brand para fair. You should all specify the details, but not the brand.” /kga
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