Controversy surrounding a P490-million catering contract has forced Bureau of Corrections (BuCo) Deputy Director for Operations Rolando Asuncion to resign from his post.
Asuncion submitted his resignation letter to Malacañang on Thursday and said goodbyes to employees of the bureau at the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP) in Muntinlupa City (Metro Manila).
BuCor started bidding out the P490-million catering deal at the onset of 2017.
There are four bidders and among them are Mang Kiko Catering Service owned by Chito Sy and another company owned by former Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (Isafp) chief Victor Corpus.
Asuncion assumed as head of the bidding after the previous head stepped down for unclear reasons.
Mang Kiko won the bidding but it was declared a failure after the winning bidder allegedly failed to comply with requirements of the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System or PhilGEPS.
The company filed a motion for reconsideration and Asuncion, head of the Bids and Awards Committee, could not decide on the matter, apparently prompting him to vacate his post.
Because of the impasse, Undersecretary Renante Oroseo, the overseer Justice department official of BuCor, is expected to intercede.
According to another source, an official of the NBP, it is practice that the winning bidder is assured to keep P10 per inmate’s food budget as his share while the Justice department’s two officials, the undersecretary and the secretary, get P5 million and P10 million monthly, respectively.
Asuncion is a retired police general.
He was a former director of the Manila Police District and himself a former inmate at NBP for five years on murder charges.
But Asuncion has a different version why he resigned.
He said BuCor chief Benjamin delos Santos talked to him last Wednesday and he was told that reports has reached Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd that he was being linked to the drug trade.
During the meeting, Delos Santos asked him to take a ‘vacation’ while the department is conducting an investigation.
Asuncion supervised the penal colonies including the NBP, the national penitentiary.
A former police general, he was appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte to his post in July 2016.
He served as BuCor officer-in-charge for five months until Director General Benjamin delos Santos’ appointment in late November.
During Asuncion’s watch, the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force took over the security operations in the NBP that was hit by allegations of corruption and continued proliferation of illegal drugs and other contraband such as cellular phones, cash and signal boosters.
Asuncion cited “work-related issues” as reason of his leaving but he declined to elaborate.
In a television interview, however, the prison official said he wants delos Santos to choose his own deputy to run the agency. MICHAEL JOE T. DELIZO