Local officials of Maripipi, Biliran were ordered indicted by the Office of the Ombudsman for their involvement in the anomalous procurement in 2010 of medicines worth P7,998,777.26.
To be charged for violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act 3019) are former 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 local officials were found guilty of grave misconduct and ordered their dismissal from the service.
Albelda and the others 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 multimillion-peso purchase of medicines to be funded by the Priority Development Assistance Fund of Biliran Rep. 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 June 15, 2010.
Other procurement irregularities noted were: the conduct of pre-bid conference prior to the issuance of bidding documents; sudden change in the date of opening of bids without any bid bulletins issued; award of project to Suremeds despite its non-submission of performance security; and several steps in the procurement process, up to the opening of bids, took place before any purchase request was issued.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said, “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.”