40 centavos makes big difference in ex-DA regional execs’ graft case

February 26, 2020

A DIFFERENCE of 40 centavos meant imprisonment for four former officials of the Department of Agriculture (DA) Regional Field Unit 11.

The Sandiganbayan Sixth Division has found the four officials guilty of corruption for awarding a contract to PZA Trading in 2006 costing more than the available funding.

The four are DARFU 11 regional executive director Roger Chio, regional technical director Romulo Palcon, Finance Division chief Alma Mahinay, and administrative officer Godofredo Ramos.

The Sandiganbayan slapped them with six to eight years imprisonment and disqualified them from holding any government positions.

According to the anti-graft court, PZA Trading is a disqualified bidder for water system materials because of its higher bid.

The anti-graft court said PZA Trading should have been disqualified outright because its bid offer of P2,591,435.40 exceeded the Approved Budget for the Contract (ABC) which was set at P2,591,435.00 or a difference of 40 centavos.

“The discrepancy between the amount of the bid and the ABC…is a ground for not awarding the subject contract to PZA. The difference may be minuscule, but there is no question that P2,591,435.40 is greater than P2,591,435.00,” the Sandiganbayan stressed.

The accused claimed they thought the omission of P0.40 was due to a mere typographical error, however the court noted that the Invitation to Apply for Eligibility and to Bid set the budget at P2,591,435.00.

Having seen the disparity, the court held that the Bids and Awards Committee should have declared a “failed bidding” and disqualified PZA outright.

“Accused Palcon, Mahinay, and Ramos’ act of recommending the award of the subject contract, and accused Chio’s act of awarding the subject contract to PZA, when it should have been disqualified, constitutes gross inexcusable negligence at the very least,” the court ruled.

“The accused’ act of awarding or causing the award of the subject contract to PZA was unjustified and constitutes unwarranted benefits given to PZA,” it added.

The Sandiganbayan likewise noted the lack of any documentary evidence to establish that the agency conducted pre-procurement and pre-bid conferences although copies of these papers should have been distributed to the Office of the Audit Team Leader, the COA-DARFU 11, and BAC Secretariat.