By Czarina Nicole Ong
The Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the dismissal from service of several officials of the Sulu State College (SSC) in light of their involvement in the irregular procurement of laboratory equipment worth P22 million.
SSC President Abdurasa Sariol Arasid, Bids, and Awards Committee (BAC) Chairperson Hja Ferwina Jikiri Amilhamja, and BAC members Anang Agang Hawang, Nenita Aguil and Audie Janea were ordered dismissed after being found guilty of Grave Misconduct.
Aside from dismissal, they will also deal with the accessory penalties of perpetual disqualification from holding public office, forfeiture of retirement benefits, prohibition from taking the civil service examination, and cancellation of civil service eligibility.
At the same time, the Office of the Ombudsman found probable cause to indict the respondents and BAC member Joseph Pescadera for violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
Ombudsman investigators discovered that on May 30, 2011, the SSC entered into a contract with State Alliance Enterprises, Inc. for the acquisition of equipment for its physics, computer engineering, and agriculture laboratories.
But upon closer inspection by the Commission on Audit (COA) – Sulu Province, it was discovered that there were several irregularities in their procurement process.
First, there was no publication of the invitation to bid in a newspaper of general circulation, and the supplier tendered a bid in excess of the Approved Budget for the Contract.
Bidding was also undertaken despite the absence of certification of availability of funds, and there was lack of procurement documents such as the bidding documents, bid security and abstract of bids.
The COA even issued a Notice of Disallowance for the transaction on June 15, 2015.
“The purchase of the equipment reeks of violations, not only of the procurement law, but of other laws as well,” the Ombudsman decision read. “The flawed process deprived the SSC of a competitive bidding that would have extended equal opportunity to enable other contracting parties who are eligible and qualified to participate in public bidding.”