Bohol execs suspended over backhoe purchase
CEBU CITY — At least 22 elective and appointive officials in Bohol province were suspended by the Office of the Ombudsman after they were indicted for graft over the alleged irregular purchases of heavy equipment in 2006 and in 2009.
The Ombudsman directed Bohol Gov. Edgar Chatto to implement the suspension order. Officials who were no longer in government service were told to pay a fine equivalent to their salaries for six months.
Among those suspended for nine months were Vice Gov. Dionesio Balite, who was provincial board member when one of two transactions took place.
The province was then headed by Gov. Erico Aumentado, whose death on Dec. 25, 2012, extinguished any criminal liability on his part.
A complaint filed on Nov. 6, 2014, showed that Civic Merchandising Inc. (CMI) submitted a bid in 2006 to supply the province with a backhoe and was awarded the contract even though the company indicated payment terms through Letters of Credit (LC), which is not allowed by the Government Procurement Reform Act (Republic Act No. 9184).
The Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Bohol at that time issued a resolution that authorized Aumentado to open an LC with the Philippine National Bank-Cebu branch to pay for the heavy equipment.
The Ombudsman’s Field Investigation Office (FIO), as the complainant, charged the board members for authorizing Aumentado to open an LC with PNB, and members of the 2006 bids and awards committee (BAC) for accepting the bid of CMI even if its payment term and delivery schedule allegedly violated several laws including RA 9184 and the Local Government Code (RA 7160).
Aside from Balite, suspended for nine months were then provincial board members Concepcion Lim, Jose Veloso, Feliz Uy, Godofreda Tirol and Brigido Imboy; and 2006 BAC members Laura Saramosing-Boloyos, Felix Mejorada and Abraham Clarin.
Also indicted were members of the provincial board in 2006: Ester Galbreath, Ma. Fe Camacho-Lejos, Frances Auza, Handel Lagunay, Edwin Vallejos and Amalia Tirol, as well as BAC members Saramosing-Boloyos, Mejorada, Clarin, and Greta Mende.
In their counteraffidavit, Balite and his co-respondents said the resolution authorizing Aumentado to open an LC was issued upon the insistence of the then governor.
But the Ombudsman said LC, as a mode of payment, was not allowed in any procurement when CMI submitted to the BAC its bid on April 4, 2006.
Another heavy equipment procurement transacted by the Bohol government in 2009 also landed BAC members Cesar Tomas Lopez, Alfonso Damalerio II, as well as Imboy, an administrative penalty of suspension for nine months.
Then Vice Gov. Julius Caesar Herrera and 2009 board members Tirol, Galbreath, Camacho-Lejos, Josil Trabajo, Aster Apalisok-Piollo, and Jane Censoria Cajes-Yap, were also indicted for violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
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