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7 DA regional field officers face raps before the Sandiganbayan

Seven officials of the Department of Agriculture (DA) Regional Field Unit XI are facing charges before the Sandiganbayan for mishandling the P10 million Priority Development Fund Assistance (PDAF) of former Davao Oriental Representative Joel Mayo Almario.

The filing of the charges was ordered by the Office of the Ombudsman after finding probable cause against the erring DA regional officials.
Facing multiple counts of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act  3019) are Roger Chio (former regional executive director), Romulo Palcon (former regional technical director), Alma Mahinay (chief, finance division), Godofredo Ramos (administrative officer), Onofre Nugal (chief, agricultural engineering division), Jamie Bergonio (former chief agriculturist) and Isagani Basco (former  chief administrative officer).
The Ombudsman in three separate resolutions found that Chio and the others facilitated the procurement and payment of the following items in 2005:100 units of multimedia system with computer set, P10 million, water system materials, P2,591,435.40; 81 units of personalized 10x20 livelihood tents with framing, P2, 496,582; totalling to P15,088,017.70.
The funding for the water system materials was sourced from Almario’s share from the GMA Rice and Corn Program.
 Ombudsman investigators found that respondents failed to comply with the required bidding procedure as they did not conduct any pre-procurement or any pre-bid conferences for the projects. Respondents also failed to publish any invitation to bid as required under the Government Procurement Reform Act (Republic Act 9184).  
Chio et.al. did not dispute that the procurement requirements were not complied with but raised the common defense that “they did not have any involvement in the bidding process.”
According to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, “this is untenable.”
“The wanton disregard of a plain and simple policy of the law that defeated the principle of transparency and competitiveness in the procurement process is sufficient to establish that respondents acted with evident bad faith, manifest partiality or gross inexcusable negligence.”

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