THREE officials from the Department of Agriculture (DA) in Davao City are facing a 90-day suspension pending their litigation by the anti-graft court, following the questionable procurement of P3-million worth of disinfectants in 2012.

Senior agriculturists Melani Provido and Isabelita Buduan, and administrative officer Marie Ann Constantino stand trial for violation of Republic Act 3019 or The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices, the Ombudsman said in its website.

The Ombudsman found that the three officials - all members of the DA’s technical working group on the procurement of disinfectants - entered into a grossly and manifestly disadvantageous contract with agri-chemical firm for P3 million.

In granting a motion filed by Ombudsman prosecutors, the anti-graft court cited section 3 of the law which stated any incumbent officer against whom any criminal prosecution under a valid information under this law is pending in court shall be suspended from office.

It junked the contention of the defense that “they are not in a position to tamper with any kind of evidence as they are not the custodians of any relevant records, and that the deprivation of their salary as well as the humiliation and embarrassment that they will suffer will cause undue suffering and prejudice to them.”

The three officials were arraigned last January 2017. This stemmed after it was learned that they had a closed deal with the FKA Agri-Chemical for the procurement of 38 drums of disinfectant amounting to P3,040,000.

This, despite having the existence of a lower bid from another qualified bidder amounting to only P2,647,308.