LEGAZPI CITY: It was supposed to be a happy moment for the province of Albay when it became the first recipient of P300 million from a poverty reduction project of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
However, this joyous occasion was short-lived when questions were raised concerning the distribution of funds under the DSWD’s Kapit Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan – Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Service (Kalahi-Cidss) project.
DSWD Regional Director Arnel Garcia ordered a probe after he received complaints that the project would be carried out by “politically favored” and “questionable” contractors. He has been asked by Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda to strictly monitor the implementation of the project.
The funds were supposed to be distributed to 15 towns in Albay for the rehabilitation and improvement of farm to market roads. The DSWD said part of the funds—or P75 million to be exact—would come from the provincial government and the Asian Development Bank.
Trouble began when the money was given to Local Government Units (LGUs) for bidding and implementation.
A probe was ordered after Garcia learned that a certain contractor who happens to be the cousin of a former DSWD female regional director allegedly approached a liaison officer of another contractor who was offered P50,000 so the latter would not participate in the bidding of funds amounting to P66.8 million for the rehabilitation and improvement of Barangays Danao-Pintor road in Polangui town.
Police identified the contractor as Joey Muñoz of Muñoz Construction who allegedly introduced himself as the project negotiator. The police report dated April 22, 2014 identified Rosie Ravalo as the complainant.
In a motion for reconsideration dated April 26 filed by lawyer Regie Regala, it was learned that Ravalo was not allowed to participate during the April 24, 2014 bidding on allegations that she failed to meet certain requirements for the site inspection on April 23, 2014.
However, Regala said Ravalo didn’t make it because Bidding and Awards Committee officer-in-charge Edwin Baldemoro could not be located in his office since April 10, 2014 to receive Ravalo’s Letter of Intent.
When Baldemoro was finally located, Regala said Municipal Treasurer Ana Robrigado was nowhere to be found until April 23 – the only time Ravalo was allowed to purchase bid documents.