FORMER governor Luis “L-Ray” Villafuerte Jr. of Camarines Sur province is facing three counts of graft before the Sandiganbayan for the purchase of P20 million of petroleum products without public bidding.
The Office of the Ombudsman charged the former provincial chief of three counts of graft together with Jeffrey Lo, proprietor of Naga Fuel Express Zone, who was paid for the petrol products but were not released to the provincial hall.
The charge sheets showed that Villafuerte bought petroleum products in three tranches in 2010: a release of P5 million on January 22; another P5 million between January 7 and 23; and another P10 million on April 7.
According to complainant Carlo Batalla, Villafuerte purchased petroleum products from Lo between January and April 2010. Batalla added that the provincial hall had not yet consumed the fuel but Villafuerte still purchased all the more.
“Although Lo had already received advanced payment, he still refused to effect delivery thereof to the provincial government, and instead, insisted without justifiable reason, on retaining custody of the same,” the Ombdusman resolution read.
In his defense, Villafuerte said that Camarines Sur did not go through public bidding because conduct of one “would be impractical,” among other reasons.
“Villafuerte’s assertions are lame justification for his irregular acts,” the Ombudsman ruled.
It added that the “department order or traditional practice” which the province resorted cannot override the “almost peremptory” public bidding requirement stipulated in the Government Reform Procurement Act.
“An assiduous examination of the case records reveals that there was no public bidding conducted for the purchase of petroleum products. What’s more, there is no evidence showing that the provincial bids and awards committee prepared a resolution,” the resolution read.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales approved the filing of the criminal complaint but the administrative charge has been dropped due to the reelection of Villafuerte in May 2010.
“While there is substantial evidence to support the administrative case [Villafuerte’s] reelection had mooted his administrative liability,” the dispositive portion read.
Bail bond was set at P30,000 per each count for provisional liberty.