Ballot secrecy folder deal: 3 Comelec execs suspended
The Office of the Ombudsman has found three Commission on Election (Comelec) officials guilty of simple neglect of duty, simple misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service in connection with the planned purchase of P690 million worth of ballot secrecy folders in 2010.
Found liable were Comelec Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) members Maria Lea Alarkon, Allen Abaya and Antonio Santella, who were ordered suspended for six months without pay.
Cleared of any liability were Maria Norina Casingal, Martin Niedo and Comelec executive director Jose Tolentino.
The Comelec scuttled its planned purchase of the ballot secrecy folders for the country’s first automated elections in 2010 after they were found to be overpriced. It was supposed to buy 1.8 million folders at P380 each from OTC Paper Supply.
Administrative complaints were subsequently filed against the Comelec officers.
In a decision approved by then Acting Ombudsman Orlando Casimiro on July 19, the Office of the Ombudsman said Alarkon, Abaya and Santella were liable because their recommendation to award the contract to OTC without public bidding was not justified.
The three were the only BAC members who signed the resolution recommending the award of the contract to OTC.
The Ombudsman said as a general rule there should be public bidding, and this could only be done away with if several conditions are met.
In awarding the contract to OTC, the BAC had said there was already a delay in the procurement of nonaccountable forms, which was why no public bidding was held.
But the Ombudsman said the BAC should have first sought the approval of the Comelec en banc when it resorted to direct contracting.
The BAC’s sole reliance on the OTC’s claim as the exclusive supplier of the folder was also unwarranted and without basis, it said.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.