Ombudsman orders dismissal of Bacolod City mayor, 8 others for PHP50-M office furniture bid scam

MANILA, -- Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has ordered the dismissal from the service of Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia and eight other local officials after they were found guilty of grave misconduct and gross neglect of duty.

Leonardia is also set to face trial before the Sandiganbayan for violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019, or the "Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act".

Standing as Leonardia's co-accused in the graft charge and also ordered dismissed were Goldwyn Nifras (secretary to the mayor); Luzviminda Treyes (city budget officer); Nelson Sedillo Sr. (head of Department of Public Services); Belly Aguillon, Aladino Agbones and Jaries Ebenizer Encabo (all city engineers); Eduardo Ravena (city accountant); and Annabelle Badajos (city treasurer).

The order of dismissal from the service carries the accessory penalties of perpetual disqualification from holding public office, forfeiture of retirement benefits, cancellation of civil service eligibility and bar from taking the civil service examination.

In case any of the respondents are no longer in the service, the penalty is convertible to a fine equivalent to respondent's one year salary.

The Public Assistance and Corruption Prevention Office of Ombudsman-Visayas, as complainant, was able to establish that bidding irregularities were committed by the local executives concerning the 2008 procurement of office furniture and fixtures awarded to Comfac Corporation.

The city government paid a total of PHP49,059,696.81 for the project.

The Ombudsman joint resolution enumerated bidding irregularities such as the unlawful conversion of Comfac's bid security of PHP500,000 and treating it as the bidder's performance bond; improper issuance of a mere purchase order for a multi-million peso project instead of a contract as required under the procurement law; failure to exercise due diligence in the computation of liquidated damages against the supplier in view of repeated delays in delivery; and award of contract to a supplier without meeting the eligibility requirements as set by the city as procuring entity.

Ombudsman Morales said that "as city mayor, Leonardia is duty-bound to exercise general supervision and control over all programs, projects, services and activities of the city government, including examining the books, records and documents of all offices."

Morales scored Leonardia, saying that "had he performed his supervisory duty, he would have noticed deviations from the requirements of the procurement law and rules, and corrected them." (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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