OzamiZ City (Misamis Occidental) Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog Sr. and his daughter Vice Mayor Nova Princess Parojinog-Echavez are asking the Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division to throw out the graft case filed against them over the award of a project to the Parojinog & Sons Construction Company for the renovation of a gymnasium in 2008.
The Office of the Ombudsman filed the case last month, alleging that the mayor had financial or pecuniary interest in the company, which was “owned by his family” when it participated as a bidder and bagged the project.
But in a motion filed last week, the defense said “Parojinog & Sons Construction Company is a duly registered partnership, between two partners, the siblings (a) accused Echavez; and (b) Reynaldo O. Parojinog, Jr. At this point, it is important to underscore the fact that accused Parojinog Sr. is neither a partner nor investor to this company. He does not have any direct or indirect financial or pecuniary interest in the construction company.”
It argued that the Ombudsman “erroneously applied” the Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act (RA) 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act “which were still not in effect at the time of the procurement and even the completion of the Ramiro Gymnasium renovation project.”
According to the defense, it was the 2003 IRR of the procurement law, not the 2009 version, which covered the subject transaction.
“The Revised IRR [5th Version] of RA 9184 only took effect thirty  days after its publication on 2 September 2009. If only to emphasize, this is crucial in the appreciation of this case, due to the fact that the Honorable Ombudsman disregarded the legal tenet against ex-post facto application of law. That the Ombudsman applied the 2009 Revised IRR of RA 9184 for a procurement that was completed in 2008 cannot be reconciled with prevailing law and jurisprudence. In simple terms, the amended version, which prohibited the relations between the bidder and the end-user unit, was irrelevant as it was not yet applicable during the 2008 DPWH bidding process,” it said, referring to the Department of Public Works and Highways.
Based on the motion, the DPWH was the procuring entity for the project while the city government was the end-user unit of the procurement.
“At the expense of being repetitive, what was only required under the 2003 IRR was that the bidder make a sworn written statement that he/she was not related within the third degree of consanguinity or affinity to the Head of the Procuring Entity, members of the BAC and the TWG, the BAC Secretariat and the members of the PMO and designers of the project,” the defense said.
BAC is the Bids and Awards Committee, TWG is the Technical Working Group and PMO is Project Management Office.
“Meanwhile, it was only in the 2009 IRR that the disclosure requirement expressly included the head of the end-user unit within the third degree of consanguinity or affinity,” the defense said.