For accepting bids 40 centavos higher than budget, DA-Davao execs convicted of graft
MANILA, Philippines –How they wish the law would be a little bit soft on them.
For accepting bids that went over the approved budget by a measly 40 centavos, four officials of the Department of Agriculture (DA) Regional Field Unit XI in Davao City have been convicted of graft.
In the decision from the Sandiganbayan’s Sixth Division last January 30, DA regional head Roger Chio, procuring head Romulo Palcon, finance chief Alma Mahinay, and administrative officer Godofredo Ramos were guilty of graft for going into a contract with PZA Trading worth P2,591,435.40 when the approved budget for the contract (ABC) was only P2,591,435.
The contract was for the purchase of water system materials. In the information for the graft case, the accused allegedly violated procurement procedures stated by Republic Act No. 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act.
According to the anti-graft court, while the difference is small, it cannot be denied that the contract entered by the DA officials is greater than the allocated budget.
“It is apparent in PZA’s bid in the amount of P2,591,435.40 exceeded the ABC in the amount of P2,591,435.00. The difference may be minuscule, but there is no question that P2,591,435.40 is greater than P2,591,435.00,” the decision, penned by Sixth Division chair and Associate Justice Sarah Jane Fernandez, said.
During the proceedings, the accused have countered that the 40 centavos were “erroneously omitted” in the budget. However, the court noted that while the 40 centavos were included in the invitation to bid and the purchase request, the ABC clearly stated that the budget, sans the 40 centavos.
“The bid amount, having exceeded the ABC, accused Palcon, Mahinay, and Ramos should have rated PZA’s bid as ‘failed’, and disqualified it outright,” the court explained.
“Accused Chio, for his part, should not have awarded the subject contract to PZA, and instead should have rejected PZA’s bid and declared a failure of bidding,” they added.
With the decision, the four accused were sentenced to imprisonment of six years and one month as a minimum, up to a maximum of eight years. All are also disqualified from holding public office.
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