Vizcaya lawmaker liable for P4.8M hospital equipment mess – COA
MANILA — The Commission on Audit has recommended that the Office of the Ombudsman investigate Nueva Vizcaya Rep. Luisa Cuaresma and five others over the 2010 purchase of P4.81-million worth of hospital equipment without public bidding.
In a recently released decision, CoA Chairperson Michael Aguinaldo and Commissioner Jose Fabia and Isabel Agito directed the agency’s Prosecution and Litigation Office to forward the case for investigation and possible charges “if warranted, against the persons liable for the transaction.”
This was after the CoA reinstated the Apr. 10, 2011 notice of disallowance—a reimbursement order—issued on the payment of various equipment for the Nueva Vizcaya Provincial Hospital.
The main office disapproved the June 4, 2012 decision by the CoA’s Cagayan Valley regional office that granted the provincial officials’ appeal.
The decision stated that the April 23, 2010 purchase of equipment from Medisafe Philippines, Inc., did not go through public bidding, in violation of the Government Procurement Reform Act.
This was because acting presiding officer Tomas Garra had no knowledge of the bidding held on March 16, 2010, despite his presence in the meeting.
A CoA representative who attended the BAC meeting likewise corroborated that no opening of bids was held that day, and his copy of the minutes did not list the opening of bids on the agenda.
As governor at the time, Cuaresma was found liable for her approval of the bids and awards committee resolution awarding the contract to Medisafe, despite the absence of Garra’s signature.
Designated BAC secretariat head Eilyn Dacuycuy was also held liable for failing to secure Garra’s signature and forwarding the resolution to Cuaresma instead.
The CoA did not buy her statement that she “inadvertently” forwarded the resolution to Cuaresma, deeming it to be “too lame an excuse to be acceptable.”
“In reality, the BAC Resolution was immediately forwarded by Appellant Dacuycuy to Governor Cuaresma because she was aware that it was quite impossible to secure the signature of Garra as there was really no bidding that was conducted,” the decision read.
Two BAC members, provincial administrator Manuel Tabora and provincial legal officer Desiderio Perez, were also held liable for signing the “spurious” resolution.
Sangguniang Panlungsod councilman Glen Afan, the officer-in-charge of the governor’s office, was faulted for his failure to scrutinize the transaction despite the presence of red flags. The liability of provincial treasurer officer-in-charge Rhoda Moreno hinged on her preparation and signing of the check without the required signature of the provincial accountant.
The regional office in 2012 had also found no bidding was held, but recommended that the province continue to pay Medisafe since NVPH had been using the equipment already for the benefit of the province’s constituents. SFM
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