CATBALOGAN CITY -- Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales ordered Thursday, February 23, the filing of information for graft and malversation against Samar Representative Milagrosa Tan and six other individuals for their alleged involvement in the anomalous procurement of P69-million worth of medicines.

Tan and her co-accused will face trial for five counts of violation of Section 3 (e) of the Republic Act (RA) 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, three counts of violation of Section 3(g) of RA 3019, and five counts of malversation of public funds.

Other respondents are Provincial Treasurer Bienvenido Sabanecio Jr., Provincial Accountant Francasio Detosil, Administrative Officer Rolando Montejo, General Service Officer-in-Charge Ariel Yboa, Supply Officer Georgia Abrina, and Roselyn Larce, who is the representative of medicine supplier, Zybermed Medi Pharma, a Pasig-based company.

The charges were filed against them by the Field Investigation Office (FIO), who said in its complaint that “the Province of Samar, through Tan, has been making extravagant purchases of drugs and medicines from Zybermed using its multi-million peso health fund.”

In a series of annual audit reports and audit observation memorandum, the Commission on Audit (COA) noted the following irregularities: steady unexplainable increase in the year-end inventory balance of drugs and medicines from 2005 to 2007; the accuracy of the year-end inventory balance could not be determined due to lack of monitoring and inadequate record-keeping; and the intended beneficiaries/end-users of medicines could not be ascertained due to lack of distributions lists.

The COA issued notices of disallowance (ND) in August 2007 for the irregular payments made by Tan and the Capitol officials for the procurement of drugs and medicines totaling P64,385,534.30 and dental supplies worth P4,654,980.54.

The COA said the transactions were “disallowed for being unnecessary and non-responsive to the exigencies of the service.”

The audit body also observed that the disbursement vouchers were not supported with proper documents; the local government had no sufficient storage space for the large quantity of goods; non-submission of proof of consumption by the barangays; absence of proof that the items were received and inspected; and non-validation that the medicines were actually used for alleged medical missions.

It was also found out that the supplier Zybermed had no valid business permit to be eligible to accept multi-million peso payments in 2007.

In the approved resolution, Morales said “the disallowance is the disapproval in audit of a transaction, either in whole or in part, for being illegal, irregular, unnecessary, excessive, extravagant or unconscious expenditure.”

The Ombudsman said that Tan and the other officials failed to account for the disallowed amount totaling to P69,040,514.84.

“Tan and Sabenecio’s failure to question the observation of the COA in the NDs and the charges of the FIO in this complaint raises a prima facie evidence that they have placed such missing funds to personal use,” said Morales.

The resolution further stated that “the transaction in issue could not have been consummated without the indispensable cooperation of Detosil, who certified that the transactions were supported with complete documents; Montejo, who made the requisition even when there was no need of the items at the time of the purchase; Yboa, who received the goods despite the lack of space and sighted the Acceptance and Inspection Report without indicating the date when the goods were received; Abrina, who did not indicate the date of inspection in the Acceptance and Inspection Report; and Zybermed Medi Pharma, through Larce, who accepted the payment.”

Tan, who will celebrate her birthday on February 25, cannot be reached for her comment.

But her camp, through Governor Sharee Ann Tan–Delos Santos, said they cannot comment on the issue, as they have not yet received a copy of the information.

“(Anyway), the lawyer of Representative Tan is checking it now. We are, in fact, waiting for the resolution of the motion for reconsideration we have submitted earlier,” said the governor, daughter of the congresswoman.

“We are ready naman po to answer all charges, and we are willing to submit all our supporting documents to counter those charges,” she added.

Section 3(e) of RA 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 preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence.

Section 3(e), on the other hand, is committed by a public servant who enters, on behalf of the government, into any contract or transaction manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the same, whether or not the public officer profited or will profit thereby. (SunStar Philippines)