Sereno lawyer: Hiring of IT expert for SC e-projects above board
The camp of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Tuesday maintained that there was nothing irregular in the hiring of information and communications technology (ICT) consultant Helen Macasaet, whose contract of services expired in November 2017.
Sereno’s Spokesperson Atty. Jojo Lacanilao said the hiring of Macasaet was done in accordance with the government procurement law through an alternative mode called “negotiated procurement.”
“The Supreme Court hired Ms. Macasaet from among three choices through negotiated procurement because her services are highly technical in nature and, therefore, exempted from public bidding under Section 53.7 of the 2009 Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations of R.A. 9184,” Lacanilao said.
The Chief Justice’s hiring of an ICT consultant with excessive compensation without public bidding is one of the allegations in the impeachment complaint being heard by the House Committee on Justice.
Lacanilao added that the Supreme Court, not the Chief Justice, hired Macasaet in October 2013 to review and assess the implementation of its Enterprise Information Systems Plan (EISP) and to implement the e-Courts and automated hearing projects for the entire judiciary.
During the impeachment hearing, Deputy Court Administrator Raul Villanueva, who also headed the SC Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) on Consulting Services, testified that the amount of P1.5 million for a consultancy contract or P250,000 per month awarded to Macasaet was the highest for an individual contract.
Villanueva said the BAC did not approve the consultancy contract but merely acknowledged that it met the requirement for a negotiated procurement, where the main criteria were trust and confidence of the procuring agency or end-user of the consultant.
But Lacanilao said it was the SC’s BAC on Consulting Services that characterized Macasaet’s services as “highly technical in nature” through a memorandum dated Sept. 10, 2013.
“The BAC also opined that the subject procurement primarily requires trust and confidence because it is a priority program of the Supreme Court,” he said.
Lacanilao said based on records, Macasaet’s initial six-month service contract, which took effect on Oct. 1, 2013, and which would entitle her to a monthly salary of P100,000, was also evaluated by the SC’s Procurement and Planning Committee, the BAC, and the Management Information Office.
“The result of Ms. Macasaet’s work also justifies her fees,” he explained. “Under these circumstances, her compensation cannot be characterized as excessive.”
Lacanilao noted Macasaet has been in the ICT industry for more than 35 years, specializing in systems integration management, business re-engineering, digital strategy development, information systems planning, and solutions implementation.
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