3 Iloilo execs ordered dismissed for rigged bidding | Inquirer News

3 Iloilo execs ordered dismissed for rigged bidding

/ 07:30 AM August 25, 2014

ILOILO CITY—The Ombudsman has ordered the dismissal from service of three municipal officials in Iloilo who were allegedly involved in a rigged bidding for government infrastructure projects.

In a 13-page decision dated April 4 and received by the Ombudsman regional office in Iloilo on Aug. 20, the Ombudsman Visayas ordered the dismissal of Noel Jaspe, municipal engineer; Ma. Negenia Araneta, municipal budget officer; and Sanny Apuang, municipal agriculturist of Sta. Barbara town in Iloilo.

Jaspe served as vice chair of the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) while Araneta and Apuang were members.


The three officials were found guilty of grave misconduct for violating bidding procedures under Republic Act No. 9184 (Government Procurement Reform Act), according to the decision issued by Carmelle Baybay-Suson, Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer I and approved by Deputy Ombudsman-Visayas Pelagio Apostol.


The case stemmed from a complaint filed by Agustin Sonza Jr. who alleged that the bidding for five government projects in the municipality was rigged by two contractors, Topmost Development and Marketing Corp. (TDMC) and F Gurrea Construction Inc. (FGCI), in collusion with the other BAC members.

The projects involved the concreting of Libertad and Arroyo Streets, asphalt overlay of Castilla Street, concreting of Sodusta Street, asphalting of Arroyo Street and construction of the fish section building.

An investigation of the Commission on Audit (COA) revealed that three contractors initially offered bids for the projects but the AFG Construction withdrew their bid verbally during the opening of the bids.

The TDMC also withdrew its bid for the Sodusta Street asphalt overlay and asphalting of Arroyo Street. FGCI withdrew its bid for three projects (concreting of Libertad and Arroyo Streets, concreting of Sodusta Street and construction of fish section building).

The withdrawals left TDMC the sole bidder for three projects and FGCI for the other two.

Former Sta. Barbara Mayor Isabelo Maquino subsequently awarded the projects based on recommendations of BAC.


The Ombudsman, in its decision, noted that opening and reading of the bids proceeded despite the opposition of BAC member Genaro Sonza who had insisted that the BAC should have been informed of the withdrawal of bids before the dropping of the bids.

A COA special audit examination also revealed that TDMC and FGCI have almost the same owners and incorporators based on their interlocking officers.

Ivy Longno Gurrea, one of the incorporators of TDMC, was also a member of FGCI’s board of directors at the time of the bidding. She is also the wife FGCI president Felix Gurrea, according to the Ombudsman, citing the COA report.

Sally Gurrea Tampos, a sister of Felix Gurrea and an incorporator and stockholder of FGCI, is also a member of the board and stockholder of TDMC.

Another officer, Henry Longno, FGCI administrative officer, is also a member of the board of directors of TDMC.

The two companies have the same office address in Q. Abeto Street in Mandurriao, Iloilo City and share the same telephone lines in their Manila office.

TDMC employees were former employees FGCI and vice versa, the Ombudsman said in its decision.

In their joint counter-affidavit, Jaspe and Araneta said there was no law prohibiting sister companies from participating in public bidding as long as they are qualified. They insisted that the government did not suffer damage because the contract was awarded to the lowest bidder and within the approved budget for the contract.

But the Ombudsman said that withdrawal of bids should be through a letter submitted and received by the BAC before the deadline of receipt of bids.

It noted that the withdrawal of AFG Construction was done verbally before the opening of the bids while TDMC and FCGI submitted their withdrawal for some of the projects by attaching letters in their technical and financial envelopes.

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“In disregarding the bidding rules particularly the procedure to be followed on the withdrawal of bids, the respondents consciously allowed and conspired with TDMC and FGCI to manipulate the bidding,” the Ombudsman said in its decision.

TAGS: corruption, News, Ombudsman, Regions

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