Biliran officials, COA auditor sued for P8million medicine scam
19 May 2017
The Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the filing of charges against local officials of Maripipi, Biliran for their involvement in the anomalous procurement in 2010 of medicines worth P7,998,777.26. Facing charges for violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019) are ex-Mayor Noel Albelda; Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) members: Wilma Elairon, Marietta Campollo, Amelia Bacolod, Sonia Alavera, Julio Cairo, Jr., Sergio Mejarito, Tito Cairo; Municipal Accountant Michelle Quinte; Municipal Health Officer Mary Grace Llever; and Commission on Audit State Auditor Genelito Balila. Also included as co-accused are Jerome Capuyan and Cherel Serato, representatives from supplier Suremeds Marketing.
The Ombudsman found the local officials guilty of Grave Misconduct and ordered their dismissal from the service. Albelda, et. al. were also meted the accessory penalties of perpetual disqualification from holding public office, forfeiture of retirement benefits and cancellation of civil service eligibility. In case of separation from the service, the penalty is convertible to a fine equivalent to the respondent’s salary for one year.
Investigation showed that in June 2010, the municipality undertook the multi-million peso purchase of medicines to be funded by the Priority Development Assistance Fund of Biliran Representative Glenn Chong. The project was awarded to Suremeds despite several substantial lapses in the procurement process including irregularity in the dates appearing in the bidding documents. Investigators noted that the purchase request, notice of eligibility, minutes of the meeting, post qualification report, BAC resolution, notice of award and even the purchase order were all dated 15 June 2010. Other procurement irregularities noted were: (1) the conduct of pre-bid conference prior to the issuance of bidding documents; (2) sudden change in the date of opening of bids without any bid bulletins issued; (3) award of project to Suremeds despite its non-submission of performance security; and (4) several steps in the procurement process, up to the opening of bids, took place before any purchase request was issued.
According to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, “the circumstances present the disturbing picture that not only did public respondents ignore the discrepancies in the bidding documents submitted by Suremeds, but that information regarding the procurement that was to take place from May to June 2010 was already made known to Suremeds as early as March 2010.”
As to COA Auditor Balila, “all throughout the procurement process, [his] hand as the Auditor could be seen, as majority of the documents pertaining to the subject procurement had been marked pre-audited by him on 22 June 2010. He stands charged for not having noticed or minded at all, the numerous discrepancies and irregularities attending the subject procurement despite having pre-audited the documents, and allowing the payment to be disbursed.”
Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019 prohibits public officials from causing any undue injury to any party, including the Government, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence. ###