8 Misamis Oriental execs rapped with 6 counts of graft on lease deals

Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the filing before the Sandiganbayan of multiple charges of graft against former Misamis Oriental governor and now Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno for the lease of heavy equipment without conducting any public bidding.

Moreno and seven others are facing six counts of violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019, or the "Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act".

Standing as Moreno's co-accused are members of the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) Patrick Gabutina, Elsie Lopoy, Rolando Pacuribot, Divina Bade, Cancio Guibone, Leemar Tinagan and Elmer Wabe.

The Ombudsman also found Moreno, Lopoy, Pacuribot, Wabe, Tinagan et. al. guilty of grave misconduct, serious dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service and ordered their dismissal from the service.

The dismissal order carries the accessory penalties of perpetual disqualification from holding public office, cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits and bar from taking the civil service examination.

Records of the case showed that Moreno, et. al. approved and facilitated the payment of PHP1,414,179.40 for the lease of fuel tankers, trailer trucks and vibratory road roller on various dates in 2007 and from 2011 to 2012.

No public bidding was conducted for any of the lease contracts and instead, the respondents resorted to the alternative method of shopping.

The respondents failed to show a single BAC resolution or minutes of the BAC meeting to justify the procurement.

Because of these irregularities, Notices of Disallowance (ND) were issued by the Commission on Audit (COA).

As defense, the respondents argued that appeals on the NDs were still pending before the COA.

The Ombudsman ruled that "the appeals do not foreclose the Office's authority to investigate and determine whether there is a crime to be prosecuted for which they are answerable. This is so because the Ombudsman is given the power to investigate on its own an illegal act or omission of a public official."

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said that "the preliminary investigation is independent from the investigation conducted by the COA, their purposes distinct from each other. The first involves the determination of the fact of the commission of the crime; the second relates to the administrative aspect of the expenditure of public funds."

Section 3 (e) of RA No. 3019 prohibits public officials from causing any undue injury to any party, including the government, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence.

Source: Philippines News Agency