Government Corruption in Bohol Island Philippines

By Bohol Chronicle

For alleged "rigged" bidding and overpriced purchase of heavy equipments, Gov. Erico Aumentado and members of the Provincial Bid and Awards Committee are now facing charges at the Ombudsman Visayas. 

Of all people, the complainant in these cases is Aumentado's erstwhile political protégée, second district congressman Roberto Cajes. 

The solon is now on his third and last term and is running for mayor of Trinidad town, while his wife, the outgoing town mayor, is Aumentado's opponent, contesting his return bid to the congressional district which he represented for three terms; 1995, 1998 till 2001. 

Charged together with Aumentado are Atty. Handel Lagunay, PBAC Chairman; Engr. Edwin Vallejos, Vice Chairman; Laura Boloyos of the Budget Office and Felix Mejorada of the Office of the Governor, in their capacities as PBAC members. 

P9.6M BACKHOE 

First cited in the Cajes complaint was the purchase in 2006 of one (1) unit hydraulic excavator (backhoe) which include an optional attachment of a breaker that allegedly cost only P6,580,000.00 but was paid to a lone bidder the amount of P9,649,500.00.  

Only one supplier, Civic Merchandising, Inc. - Cebu participated in the entire bidding process and was awarded the contract. 

"The P3,069,500 difference is a clear overprice, the extra money definitely not given to charity," Cajes said in his complaint. 

A salesman of the same supplier company, Civic Merchandising, Inc. –Manila allegedly told Cajes that a VOLVO EC2BLC backhoe of the same specifications as that of the one subject of the bid is only worth P6,200,000.00 plus 10% rebate if paid in cash or a net cash price of P5,580,000.00. 

On the other hand, the cost of a breaker, an attachment to a backhoe, is about P850,000.00 to P1.M. In sum, the net cash price of the complete backhoe unit would only be P6,580,000.00 only, Cajes pointed out. 

BAC members and other concerned provincial officials under the leadership of Gov. Aumentado allegedly did not take action, to conduct even a cursory canvass of prices of backhoes of the same class or category in order to determine the prevailing market price, at the very least, the solon added. 

Cajes also noted that a Letter of Credit (LC) opened in PNB Cebu Branch, debited from the current account of the Bohol Provincial Government was denominated in US dollar when the quoted price of the Volvo backhoe was in peso. Moreover, the beneficiary of the LC is Sydex Limited of Kowloon, Hongkong when the supplier was supposed to be Civic Merchandising-Cebu.  

"What Sydex Limited has to do with the purchase transaction?" Cajes asked.  

Two letters were sent to Ombudsman-Manila questioning the same purchase; the other one by Atty. Victor Dela Serna, former OIC governor of Bohol. 

Gov. Aumentado also promised to return the overprice amount and subsequently, Civic Merchandising, Inc. "voluntarily" donated P750,000.00 worth of goodies, like canned goods, etc to the province. Aside from the donated goods, Civic also returned to the province the amount of P238,940.00, allegedly due to "miscomputation."  

Was there really a miscomputation or was it just a scheme adopted in order to cover-up the highly anomalous transaction?, Cajes asked. 

HEAVY EQUIPMENT 

Another bidding of heavy equipment was conducted by the provincial government on Feb. 9, 2009. This time, the equipment to be purchased included two (2) units track excavator with breaker; two (2) units of bulldozer; two (2) units of payloader; ten (10) units of six wheeler dump trucks; four (4) units of grader; and four (4) units vibratory compactor. 

RDAK, Civic Merchandising-Cebu, JVF and Camec JCB Corp (CJC) participated in the bidding. 

Under the New Government Procurement Reformed Act (R.A. 9184), it is provided that in all cases, the contract shall be awarded only to the bidder with the Lowest Calculated Responsive Bid or Highest Rated Responsive Bid. 

Instead of disbursing an amount equivalent to the lowest bid, the Approved Budget for the Contract (ABC) for the equipment were very much higher. 

Aside from the highly anomalous biddings conducted by the provincial government, Gov. Aumentado also failed to act on the delay of RDAK Transport Equipment, Inc. to deliver two (2) units of brand new payloaders specified under P.O. No. 221 dated April 8, 2009 signed by the governor himself. Until now, the company RDAK has not yet delivered the payloaders. 

Under such purchase order, RDAK ought to deliver the payloaders within ninety (90) days upon receipt of the P.O.; otherwise it could be held liable to pay a penalty of one –tenth (1/10) of one (1) percent for everyday of delay. 

The inaction of Gov. Aumentado gives clear advantage to RDAK but to the detriment and due damage/injury to the provincial government, Cajes said. 

The second district solon charged all respondent for violation of the Anti-Graft and Corruption Practices (R.A. 3019); Fraud against Public Treasury, Art. 213 (1) of the Revised Penal Code; and violation of the Gov't Procurement Reformed Act (R.A. 9184). 

Cajes also asked the Ombudsman to mete a preventive suspension immediately on all respondents, subject to pertinent Election laws, to prevent them from devising ways of suppressing the records on matters raised in the complaint.

Efforts to contact Gov. Aumentado for his comment failed until press time.