Lawyer: Ombud probe ‘just a continuation’-A A +A
Wednesday, September 4, 2013
THE legal counsel of former Bacolod City mayor Evelio Leonardia said the latest order of the Ombudsman Visayas to investigate the alleged overpriced fixtures and furniture at the Government Center is just a “continuation” of its investigation.
The complaint filed against Leonardia and 11 others was earlier dismissed by the Ombudsman.
It was originally filed by a disgruntled bidder named as Francisco Puey, representing Zacto, which was disqualified from participating in the bidding, said lawyer Joselito Bayatan.
He said after Puey got disqualified, his bad sentiment was translated into a disgruntled act by a losing bidder, thus they initiated the filing of a complaint before the Ombudsman.
He said the recent order was maybe decided, as the Ombudsman might want to continue with the probe, he stressed.
Bayatan explained that there are two types of Ombudsman investigation: (1) it can investigate on its own without notifying the parties dependent only upon the complaint of a certain individual, and (2) can even entertain anonymous complaint.
The complaint was filed on its own by the Public Assistance and Corruption Prevention Office of the Ombudsman Visayas.
The investigation of the Ombudsman was just a "motu proprio," which means "on its own," said Bayatan, adding that the Ombudsman gathers the evidence.
After that, since there are still lacking in evidence, it came up with a conclusion that although on its own findings, it could have probable cause, but it still needs the documents and answers of the respondents concerned.
"But (we) have to treat it seriously because this might be politically motivated and part of political propaganda from politically frustrated politicians. While we respect the Ombudsman, we don't value the complainant as they have been used to file politically motivated cases. We still take it seriously with due respect to the authority of the Ombudsman,” he said.
Meanwhile, former chairman of the Bids and Awards Committee, lawyer Goldwin Nifras, said Tuesday that they received the order of the Ombudsman relative to the furniture and fixtures complaint.
He said the order simply means that the Ombudsman will proceed with the investigation based on the documents and allegations originally submitted by the group of Puey against the former mayor, himself, and 10 others.
"We are preparing our counter-affidavit and we will file it within the period provided by law. We are confident that we can answer and justify our action insofar as the conduct of bidding is concerned. It is just a prima facie that the Ombudsman has seen and has not yet fully grasped the whole thing, as we are yet to file our counter affidavit. It is just a matter of explanation," Nifras said.
He added that once they explain their side, “the Ombudsman will just dismiss it. It is just an initial finding of the Ombudsman and we believe we can also present our justification on the matter."
Nifras also said that the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) has not required the bidders to own a manufacturing facility, unlike the interpretation made by the complainants.
They have not limited the entities to supply although their line of business was not in the manufacturing side, he said.
It was found out that the three bidders -- Comfac, Summit, and Unicom -- did not own a manufacturing facility but they have relationships with manufacturing facility like distributorship.
“That was the only requirement set by BAC. But as to their claim that Comfac was a preferred firm, the manufacturing facility was not the basis for disqualification but their relationship,” Nifras said.
“We just wanted that the bidders have relationship with the manufacturing facility so that they can buy straight to the manufacturer and not just elsewhere. We don't want a bidder that won will just buy the needed furniture and fixtures anywhere where we cannot hold them responsible should they fail to deliver what was needed," he added.
Nifras also explained that that time, the Bacolod Government Center was already fully completed, but cannot be utilized due to lack of furniture and fixtures.
"If we were not careful about the qualification of the bidder, we might (have) ended up facing each other in court and jeopardized the immediate use of the Government Center," he said. (CNC)
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on September 04, 2013.