BACOLOD

Raps filed vs Bacolod mayor, 5 officials over 'overpriced food packs'

“IT'S malicious, speculative, guesswork and fabricated complaint.”

This was stressed by Bacolod City Legal Officer Joselito Bayatan on Monday, July 13, 2020, after a businessman and media practitioner filed criminal and administrative complaints against Mayor Evelio Leonardia, five other city hall heads and employees before the Office of the Ombudsman for the purchase of alleged overpriced food packs that were distributed to residents during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

Complainants Tony Wong and Edgar Cadagat earlier filed a complaint for gross neglect of duty, grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of service in relation to criminal acts of malversation of public funds and anti-graft and corrupt practices against Leonardia, Social Services and Development head PacitaTero, executive assistant Jose Maria Vargas, Dannylyn Magallanes, April Rose Morada and Francis Aranez, all public officers and employees of Bacolod.

Bayatan said businessman Wong and mediaman Cadagat were “disgruntled suppliers” of the City Government and had become habitual “fake complainants” against Leonardia after the City withheld payment of their highly questionable transaction.

He said Wong and Cadagat have a pending collection claim of P3.774 million from the City Government, involving “midnight purchases” of volcanic soil and aggregates base coarse made in March 2016, when the previous Puentevella administration was about to end.

“When their billing was duly examined, it was discovered that the procurement made in March 2016 was among several ‘midnight’ purchases, and in violation of the 20-day minimum bidding period under the Procurement Law. Worse, they submitted delivery receipts worth only P1,260,473.10 against a claim of P3.774 million. Thus, the absence of complete delivery receipts is prima facie evidence that the remaining P2,513,526.90 partook of the nature of ‘ghost deliveries’ for which Wong and Cadagat are demanding to be paid,” Bayatan added.

In their complaint affidavit, Wong and Cadagat said the community quarantine prompted the city to come up with emergency relief and response service for the identified affected indigents and displaced residents of the city.

They said that based on the program of work, it showed a total of 15,000 beneficiary households. Each recipient should have 21 kilos of rice, 30 cans of sardines and 21 packs of noodles.

“This is a far cry from what was actually received by the households of Bacolod, which has been, according to the reports, in variances of five kilos rice, five sardines and five noodles. Conclusively as to the quantity of the goods purchased by the city, the number does not jibe with the alleged number of household recipients,” they added.

They said with a budget of P14,400,000 for sardines, the City could have purchased 834,782 cans and would have distributed 20 to 21 cans of sardines for each of the 40,000 household beneficiaries.

They also alleged that the quality of rice distributed to the constituents of Bacolod was never near the quality of a P2,000 per sack rice.

“Granting that the program of work for 15,000 households are food packs with five kilos rice, five sardines and five noodles, the total purchase should only be P10,370,000 and not P30,407,250. Clearly, the said purchases of the city were made without care for the scrupulous accounting and maximization of government funds and were inimical to the public,” they said.

Bayatan also countered that Wong and Cadagat have fabricated another complaint about the procurement of food supplies for emergency needs during the Covid-19 community quarantine as another black propaganda scheme.

“From news reports, it appears that Wong and Cadagat tried to build a case for alleged overpriced food packs by merely using the 'program of Work' as their ‘proof’ of actual purchase, and the 'cash advances' as the source of funds for the 'Program of Work.'

"However, that is very erroneous because any Program of Work is merely a project proposal based on projected quantities and estimated costs. It does not prove at all how the cash advance for the project was actually spent,” Bayatan explained.

Bayatan said the actual expenditures for items in the Program of Work are documented by official receipts or sales invoices of suppliers who sold the food supplies to the City.

“Had Wong and Cadagat presented the latter documents, these would have destroyed their case because these will show that the supplies were actually purchased at prices much less than originally estimated in the Program of Work. Wong and Cadagat simply exposed their feigned ignorance about the procurement processes in government when they argued their case purely based on deceptive speculations, argumentation, theories, and ‘guesswork.’ Their complaint is full of faulty assumptions that distorted the facts,” he said.

He added the emergency purchases for food supplies to implement the Program of Work had undergone proper procurement procedures through the Bids and Awards Committee, as required by law, before actual purchases were made to avail of the most reasonable and fair prices in the market at that point in time.

“Indeed, Wong and Cadagat expertly made distortions in their interpretation of the facts in their complaint. That’s why their presentation was all about guesswork, malicious speculations, faulty argumentations and invented theories,” Bayatan said.

Bayatan disclosed that the officials and employees who are respondents in this complaint will just await the official copy of the complaint from the Ombudsman to ascertain the validity and genuineness of the "proof documents" cited in the complaint and to file their answers in the proper venue.


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