By Czarina Ong Ki
The Sandiganbayan Sixth Division has found former Naga Mayor Gemma Florante Adana of Zamboanga Sibugay and four others guilty of graft due to the irregular procurement of heavy equipment worth P8.8 million back in 2007.
They were sentenced to imprisonment of six to eight years with perpetual disqualification from holding public office.
Adana, together with then bids and awards committee (BAC) Chairman Felix Abelano Timsan and BAC members Emmanuel Fortuno Enteria and Jonathan Kee Cartagena were found guilty of violating Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act when they conspired with CVCK General Manager Jose Ely Solivar and purchased from his company five heavy equipment.
These are one road grader, one payloader, one road roller, and two dump trucks worth a collective P8.8 million. The purchase was made without complying with the provisions of R.A. 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act.
In its 42-page ruling, the anti-graft court said that the accused did conduct public bidding for the procurement of heavy equipment. However, it was “riddled with several irregularities” that violated the principles of transparency, which is what R.A. 9184 requires.
Their Invitation to Apply for Eligibility and to Bid (IAEB) did not disclose the approved budget for the contract, which was in violation of the law. For the court, this was a “serious blunder” on the part of the accused.
“A competitive public bidding aims to protect the public interest by giving the public the best possible advantages through open competition,” the decision said. “Withholding the amount…in the IAEB thwarts the foundation of a fair, transparent, and competitive public bidding since prospective bidders, except those with inside information on the actual ABC, run the risk of being disqualified.
In this case, two other bidders were disqualified because their bid offers exceeded the approved budget while CVCK exactly matched it. When asked to give an explanation for this, the accused failed to give any.
At the same time, the published IAEB contains brand name as part of the description of the heavy equipment to be purchased. However, R.A. 9184 prohibits this.
“There is no quibble that the bidding conducted by the BAC did not meet the principles of transparency and competitiveness enunciated in R.A. 9184…thus, making it highly irregular,” the decision read.