Former Navy officials convicted over P1.8M medicine bid mess
02 February 2017
For resorting to emergency purchase without legal basis, the former Flag Officer-in-Command of the Philippine Navy (PN), Vice Admiral Mariano Dumancas, Jr., was convicted by the Sandiganbayan of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. The court also convicted Commander Rosendo Roque, a Naval Procurement Officer; Commander Ramon Renales, Head of Price Monitoring Office; Commodore Francisco Tolin, Philippine Coast Guard Deputy Commandant; and, Commander Manuel Tuason, Assistant Chief of Staff for Logistics.
Dumancas and Roque were found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of five counts of graft under Republic Act No. 3019; Renales convicted of four counts; and Tolin and Tuason for one count each. The accused were sentenced to imprisonment of six to 10 years for each count.
Prosecutors from the Ombudsman proved that Dumancas et al. facilitated the procurement of P1,831,067.00 worth of medicines from 1991 to 1992 without conducting any public bidding. Documents showed that the accused illegally resorted to emergency purchase without complying with procurement regulations effective at that time and gave preference to specific brand names. No canvass from at least three suppliers was obtained and instead, Dumancas, et. al. claimed that the medicines were supplied by “exclusive distributors.”
Prosecutors presented witnesses from the Commission on Audit who testified on the results of their special audit on selected transactions of the PN. The COA found that the drugs and medicines were purchased through the emergency mode of procurement.
In agreeing with the prosecution, the court stated that “the prosecution is correct in that the nature of the medicines subject to the transactions betrayed the need to resort to emergency purchase mode…as they were mostly over-the-counter drugs such as paracetamol, amoxicillin and multivitamins."
The anti-court did not subscribe to the defense of the accused that the “period when the subject transactions were made was an unusual time” because of the rumors of a coup d’etat. The court highlighted that the procurement was made to replenish the stocks of the medical and dental units.
“The process of approval is not a ministerial duty of approving authorities to sign every document that comes across their desks, and then point to their subordinates as the parties responsible if something goes awry. Unlike other minute requirements in government procurement, compliance or non-compliance with the rules on public bidding is readily apparent; and the approving authority can easily call the attention of the subordinates concerned. To rule otherwise would render meaningless the accountability of high-ranking public officials and to reduce their approving authority to nothing more than a mere rubber stamp,” the Decision stated.
On the other hand, the accused were acquitted of charges of violating Section 3(g) of R.A. No. 3019 due to lack of sufficient evidence to prove that the prices of the medicines were overpriced.
The court also noted that accused Captains Alfredo Penola and Walter Briones; suppliers Connie Tagle and Ramon Vito, have remained at-large.###