CDO mayor Oscar Moreno faces fresh graft raps
Former Misamis Oriental governor and now Cagayan De Oro city mayor Oscar Moreno faces new charges of graft over alleged anomalous heavy equipment leases which were earlier disallowed by the Commission on Audit (COA).
In a statement on Wednesday, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales ordered the filing before the Sandiganbayan of 18 counts of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act against Moreno over the allegedly anomalous leases when he was governor.
Moreno’s co-accused are ex-Provincial Accountant Divina Bade (16 counts) and Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) members, namely: ex-Provincial Legal Officer Cancio Guibone (one count), ex-Provincial Budget Officer Elmer Wabe (17 counts), ex-Provincial Administrator Patrick Gabutina (16 counts), ex-Assistant Provincial Engineer Rolando Pacuribot (18 counts), ex-Provincial Agriculturist Danilo Maputol (two counts), ex-Provincial General Services Officer Elsie Lopoy (five counts) and Administrative Aide Leemar Tinagan (three counts).
This on top of Falsification of Public Documents charges ordered filed against Moreno (one count), Wabe (four counts), Gabutina (four counts), Pacuribot (four counts), Lopoy (four counts), Maputol (two counts) and Tinagan (one count).
Their charges stemmed from the anomalous lease for heavy equipment from 2007 to 2012 which was disallowed by COA.
According to the COA special audit report on Misamis Oriental provincial government’s equipment rental, expenses for rental equipment constituted the third biggest expenditure under the maintenance and other operating expenses.
COA found the disbursement for equipment rental “irregular,” with transactions worth P20.5 million deemed fictitious after suppliers denied participating in the bidding process.
The Ombudsman said Moreno and his co-accused did not conduct public bidding into the multimillion peso lease deals, and instead resorted to the alternative method of shopping for rent tankers and road rollers, while an excavator was procured through negotiated procurement.
COA thus issued notices of disallowance after finding that the “bidding for the rental was simulated or rigged.”
The Ombudsman said procurement rules state that shopping may be used for the procurement of ordinary or regular office supplies or equipment.
The Ombudsman found the respondents liable for resorting to negotiated procurement for the excavator finding even though “there is not even a single document that invoked the existence of an emergency situation.”
The Ombudsman also discovered that the rental of the excavator was carried out on a monthly basis, without the Bids and Awards Committee convening to address the emergency situation.
Representatives from alleged contractors Equiprent, Geo Transport and Golden Richfield denied “any transaction for equipment rental with the provincial government,” the Ombudsman said.
Wabe, Gabutina, Pacuribot and Lopoy should also be held liable for falsification for making it appear that the Abstract of Canvass Form that the contractors participated in the sham bidding, the Ombudsman said.
The Ombudsman also ordered the dismissal, perpetual disqualification from public office, and forfeiture of benefits of Moreno for the administrative offenses of Grave Misconduct, Serious Dishonesty, Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service and Falsification of Public Documents.
Moreno’s co-accused Pacuribot, Gabutina, Wabe, Bade, Lopoy, Maputol and Tinagan were also found administratively liable and ordered dismissed from the service.
In case of separation from service, the penalty should be converted into a fine in an amount equivalent to their one-year salary.
The Ombudsman directed the Department of Interior and Local Government to implement the suspension order.
The Ombudsman ordered anew the filing of charges and dismissal from service against Moreno after earlier indicting him for graft for the anomalous lease of heavy equipment without public bidding when he was Misamis Oriental governor.
Moreno’s first dismissal reportedly was suspended after the Court of Appeals granted his request for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction. IDL
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