Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales has ordered the perpetual disqualification and dismissal from service of former Cebu Provincial Administrator and Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) Chairman Eduardo Habin for the alleged anomalous purchases for the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) project in 2006.
Eight other BAC members have also been ordered dismissed from service, the Office of the Ombudsman said on Thursday.
A statement issued by the Ombudsman said the penalties were for grave misconduct and gross neglect of duty.
“In case of separation from the service, the penalty [of dismissal]is convertible to a fine equivalent to respondent’s one year salary,” the Ombudsman said.
Likewise, perpetually disqualified and dismissed from the service were: former BAC members Bernard Calderon, Marino Martinquilla, Cristina Giango, Adolfo Quiroga, Necias Vicoy Jr., Roy Salubre, Emme Gingoyon, and Eulogio Pelayre.
“Ombudsman Morales directed the Office of the Governor in Cebu City to immediately implement the decision,” the office said.
The case stemmed from a complaint filed by the Ombudsman’s Public Assistance and Corruption Prevention Office (PACPO) in the Visayas region, which alleged that in 2005, then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo designated Cebu as the venue for the 12th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit in December 2006. In February 2006, the local government built the CICC facility, with WT Construction, Inc. (WTCI) as contractor.
The Commission on Audit (COA) found that WTCI was allowed to proceed with the site development, structural, architectural, plumbing and electrical work without public bidding, written contracts and approved appropriations.
The P59.6-million procurement for phase II totaling, P307-million structural steel works, and other works was awarded through negotiated procurement or limited source bidding (LSB).
But under the Government Procurement Reform Act or Republic Act (RA) 9184, it pointed out, LSB is used only when buying highly specialized goods such as sophisticated defense equipment or complex air navigation systems.
“The Office of the Ombudsman held that Habin, et.al. are liable for the procurement of items which are not of the type or use that would have justified the recourse to the alternative mode of procurement,” it said.
Ombudsman investigators also found that the BAC recommendation of resorting to LSB for the supply of air conditioning units worth P26.5 million was made two months after the respondents issued a notice of award.
The respondents “flagrantly transgressed and disregarded well-established rules on bidding and definite rules of action” under RA 9184, Morales said.
Aside from perpetual disqualification from public service, the respondents face forfeiture of retirement benefits, cancellation of eligibility and prevention from taking the civil service examination, she added.