The Ombudsman’s order suspending five officials of the Sipalay City government for three months without pay was finally enforced Wednesday, Sipalay Mayor Oscar Montilla confirmed yesterday.
The Ombudsman’s order cited the respondents for the purchase of overpriced medicines and medical supplies ranging from 100 percent to 600 percent over the prevailing market price for Sipalay City in 2001.
Ordered suspended are City Accountant Eva Sabusap, City Budget Officer Fernando Balbin, City Health Officer Noel Villanueva, City Treasurer Renato Manilla and Revenue Collection Officer III Evangeline Seneres, all of the Sipalay City government.
The Ombudsman originally ordered their suspension on March 6, 2008 but the respondents filed a motion for reconsideration.
In August last year Assistant Ombudsman Virginia Palanca Santiago, in a letter to Montilla, informed him that the Office of the Ombudsman had denied the motion for reconsideration filed by the five to the 2008 decision finding them guilty of negligence in the performance of official duties.
She told Montilla they were endorsing to his office the order imposing the suspension for implementation.
The order denied their motion for reconsideration “for lack of plausible reasons to overturn the questioned decision.”
“Respondents failure to discern that they were buying those items at very expensive prices is so disturbing, if not suspicious,” the Ombudsman’s order said.
On the respondents’ statement that there was no injury caused to the city of Sipalay because the loss of lives was prevented by the emergency purchase, the Ombudsman’s order said, “to this we say that the coffers of the government was the one injured as there was an overpricing of up to 600 percent of the normal price.”
The Ombudsman said it exonerated the mayor in its original decision as one of the respondents upon application of the Aguinaldo Doctrine.
Montilla was re-elected mayor so his administrative liability was deemed condoned by virtue of his new mandate, as granted under the Aguinaldo doctrine, the decision said.
The complaint for alleged violation of the Anti-Graft Law was filed against the respondents on July 1, 2002 by the People’s Graftwatch of Negros Occidental and signed by the late Dr. Patricio Tan.
Tan cited their purchase of what he called overpriced medicines and supplies totaling P784,981.75.
In November 2001, Villanueva, as city health officer, requested for emergency purchase of medicines and supplies for residents of the city’s Barangay San Jose who developed respiratory illnesses caused by air pollution coming from the nearby abandoned site of Maricalum Mines, Tan had said.
Tan then claimed that the basis for the emergency purchase was false since the dust pollution did not happen until January or February 2002.
“The nature of an emergency purchase should not be abused and this is the message we are sending here,” the Ombudsman said in its original order.
IN SILAY CITY
Meanwhile, Silay City Mayor Jose Montelibano denied that 17 Silay officials suspended by the Ombudsman for eight months and one day are actually continuing to do city government work.
Montelibano said he is not stupid to let people who have been suspended work. He said their suspension will end in about April yet.
In the Ombudsman’s order enforced last year, the 17 were suspended for awarding to Systems and Plan Integrator and Development Corp. the information and communication and technology project of Silay City worth P18 million despite the absence of competitive public bidding and compliance with the legal requirements under Republic Act 9184, or the Government Procurement Reform Act.
They immediately resortedto direct contracting mode of procurement when the computerization service was not that of proprietary nature as there were other companies in the market offering similar services, the Ombudsman said.
The Ombudsman suspended Silay City Administrator Ignacio Salmingo, OIC City Treasurer Elsie Jimenea, OIC City Accountant Emmanuel Arsenal, Bids and Award Committee chair and City Legal Officer Kara Aimee Quevenco;
BAC members and staff Pepito Hechanova Jr., Alma de la Cruz, Ricardo Ledesma Jr., Sonia Cordero, Rene Roy Pahilanga, Giovanni Guzon, Jesus Oppus, Arnie Trajera, Jose Genaro Estrañero, Macarse Tionko, Armin Paredes, Alore Golez and Vilma Dooma, all of the Silay City government.*CPG