Lorenzo, Yap charged for skipping bidding in P46-M fertilizer purchase
Former Agriculture Secretary Luis Lorenzo Jr. and National Food Authority Administrator Arthur Yap have been charged in the Sandiganbayan for skipping the competitive bidding process in the purchase of P46.45 million worth of fertilizers in July and August 2003.
Ombudsman prosecutors charged Lorenzo and Yap, as well as Philippine Phosphate Fertilizer Corp. representative Tomas Guibani, with five counts of violations of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
According to prosecutors, the two executives gave unwarranted benefits to Philphos by directing the regional bids and awards committees of five regions to purchase 92,158 bags of fertilizer through negotiated procurement, instead of competitive bidding.
Prosecutors also questioned the issuance of a guideline that specified the opening of bids for the Luzon-wide procurement of fertilizers to be simultaneously done at the NFA central office in Manila.
The guideline was also allegedly amended to favor Philphos, by allowing only suppliers with depots within or near the pertinent region to participate in the procurement process.
The issuances and directives were allegedly “issued to ensure the award [of the contracts] to Manila-based Philphos…to the damage and prejudice of the government.”
Some 66,782 bags of fertilizer worth P31.32 million went to Central Luzon. The contracts include the purchase of 14,000 bags (P9.58 million), 5,876 bags (P2.94 million), 4,200 bas (P2.02 million), and 1,300 bags (P595.636.37) of fertilizer for the Bicol Region, Cagayan Valley, Southern Tagalog Region, and the National Capital Region.
Lorenzo, Yap and Guibani were recommended to post a bail of P150,000 each to secure temporary liberty.
Sought for comment, Yap, currently the representative of Bohol’s 3rd District, maintained that “the NFA procurement followed the law and resulted in savings for the Government.”
“It is very odd that the Ombudsman did not touch on the fact that we saved the Republic millions of pesos as can be determined from the Fertilizers and Pesticides Authority official surveyed prices of fertilizers,” Yap told the Inquirer.
He also questioned why the Ombudsman had to implicate him in separate but similar cases for the alleged anomalies. /ee
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