Bacolod mayor charged over furniture purchase mess
Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia was charged in the Sandiganbayan over alleged irregularities in the purchase of P49.1 million worth of furniture and fixtures for the New Bacolod City National Government Center in 2008.
The Ombudsman’s Office of the Special Prosecutor on Nov. 24 charged Leonardia and nine other city officials with violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
Leonardia welcomed the filing of the case “because, now, I and my fellow coaccused can avail of all legal options to, once and for all, clear our names of these charges.”
He said the set of facts in the Sandiganbayan case was the same set used in the administrative case filed against them.
“I and my coaccused were exonerated by the Court of Appeals (CA) in the administrative case. We are hopeful the Sandiganbayan will see the facts in the same light as the CA,” Leonardia told the Inquirer in a telephone interview on Tuesday.
Charged along with the mayor were his secretary Goldwyn Nifras, city budget officer Luzviminda Treyes, department of public services head Nelson Sedillo Sr., city engineer Belly Aguillon, city accountant Eduardo Ravena, assistant department head Aladino Agbones, architect Jaries Ebenizer Encabo, assistant general services officer Melvin Recabar, and city treasurer Annabelle Badajos.
The city officials allegedly declared Comfac Corp. the winning bidder despite its noncompliance with eligibility requirements provided under the law and the instruction to bidders. Comfac also received the full payment for the project.
Prosecutors questioned the conversion of the bid security into performance security. While the performance security should have amounted to 5 percent of the contract price, the bid security of 1 percent was much less.
The officials were also accused of imposing only P57,600.01 in liquidated damages on Comfac for its failure to deliver some of the pieces of furniture and fixtures on time.
Prosecutors said the city should have charged Comfac with P14.15 million in damages instead for deliveries made a year and eight months beyond the agreed date.
All in all, the undue damage caused to the government amounted to P63.21 million, or the total of the project cost and the discrepancy in the imposition of liquidated damages. —Vince F. Nonato and Nestor P. Burgos Jr.
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