Former Zamboanga Sibugay town mayor, 4 others found guilty of graft

The Sandiganbayan has found former Zamboanga Sibugay mayor and four others guilty of graft over irregular procurement of heavy equipment worth P8.8 million in 2007.

Former Naga Mayor Gemma Adana together with her co-accused have been sentenced by the anti-graft court’s Sixth Division with imprisonment of six to eight years. They were also perpetually disqualified from holding public office.

The four other co-accused convicted for graft are Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) chairman Felix Abelano Timsan; and BAC members Emmanuel Fortuno Enteria and Jonathan Kee Cartagena as they conspired with the supplier, CVCK General Manager Jose Ely Solivar.

The accused were found guilty of violating Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019, also known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act in purchasing the five heavy equipment from the supplier.

These are one road grader, one payloader, one road roller, and two dump trucks with a total worth of P8.8 million. The purchase, it was found out, did not comply with the provisions of R.A. 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act.

In its 42-page ruling, the anti-graft court said that the accused did conduct public bidding to procure the heavy equipment. The procurement was “riddled with several irregularities” violating the principles of transparency as required by R.A. 9184.

Records showed that their Invitation to Apply for Eligibility and to Bid (IAEB) failed to disclose the approved budget for the contract, a clear violation of the law. The court said this infirmity was “serious blunder” on the part of the accused.

Former Naga Mayor Gemma Adana.

“A competitive public bidding aims to protect the public interest by giving the public the best possible advantages through open competition,” the decision said. “Withholding the amount…in the IAEB thwarts the foundation of a fair, transparent, and competitive public bidding since prospective bidders, except those with inside information on the actual ABC, run the risk of being disqualified.

The court found out that two other bidders were disqualified because their bid offers had exceeded the approved budget while the winning contractor exactly matched it.

The court noted that when asked to give an explanation for this, the accused failed to give any.

At the same time, the published IAEB contains the brand name as part of the description of the heavy equipment to be purchased, an act which R.A. 9184 does not allow.

“There is no quibble that the bidding conducted by the BAC did not meet the principles of transparency and competitiveness enunciated in R.A. 9184…thus, making it highly irregular,” the decision read. The decision was promulgated on July 31. (amm)

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