Ronda mayor posts bail for Sandigan cases

Ronda Cebu Mayor Mariano “Nonie” Blanco has evaded arrest after he posted a cash bond for the graft cases that he and five other officials are facing before the Sandiganbayan for their alleged failure to post bid notices on a government website in 2012.

Blanco posted bail last Dec. 22 for 15 counts of violation of Sec. 3(e) of Republic Act 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

Cebu City Executive Judge Gilbert Moises of the Regional Trial Court Branch 18 signed Blanco’s release order after the latter submitted the bond.

Calls and text message to Blanco’s mobile phone and that of his lawyer were unanswered as of yesterday afternoon.

Last February, Eileen Mae Lagat-Alde, graft investigation and prosecution officer, found evidence to charge Blanco and five other town employees with 15 counts of violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

“Respondents…clearly with manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence when they proceeded with the bidding process despite the non-posting of invitation to bid on Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System (Philgeps) website,” read Alde’s 10-page resolution.

In his counter-affidavit, Blanco said they did not act in bad faith and malice in the performance of their functions. He said the alleged offense was committed in 2012 to 2013.

When he got reelected in the May 2013 elections, Blanco said the administrative complaint against him should be dismissed pursuant to the Aguinaldo doctrine.
Except for Blanco, the anti-graft office had suspended for one month and a day without pay the five town hall officials after they were found liable for simple neglect of duty.

The suspended town hall officials are Municipal Engineer Oscar Pilapil, Municipal Budget Officer Thelma Landiza, Municipal Assistant Treasurer Brigida Cabaron, and Frauline Requilme and Evelina Tan, bids and awards committee (BAC) members.

On the other hand, the ombudsman dismissed for lack of evidence the administrative complaint against Blanco.

The case stemmed from the criminal and administrative complaints filed by Jonald “Moymoy” Blanco Ungab, Blanco’s nephew, and the five suspended town hall officials last May 2, 2014.

Pilapil served as BAC chairman while Landiza and Cabaron served as BAC vice-chairman and member.

Ungab, son of Blanco’s sister and brother of incumbent Vice Mayor Jonah John Ungab, said the respondents violated Republic Act 9184 (Government Procurement Reform Act of 2003) for their alleged failure to post all the procurement notices of their municipality in the Philgeps website.

It is the official website for government projects subject for bidding, which is one of the Commission on Audit’s requirements.

Ungab said that only one of 16 invitation to bid for million of peso worth of various government procurement of the Ronda Municipal Government was posted the Philgeps’ electronic bulletin board for the calendar year 2012 to 2013.

Replying to the charges, the respondents denied they manipulated the bidding process when they failed to post the invitation to bid in the Philgeps website to favor certain suppliers.

They said they submitted the Philgeps bid notice abstracts and invitation to bid and were posted on the bulletin board.

In the decision, graft investigator Alde said the respondents could be held liable for violating the anti-graft law for non-compliance with the Government Procurement Reform Act.

Such failure of the respondents to post the bid notices in the government website rendered the entire bidding process of the procurement illegal and void, said Alde./ GMD
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