Forty centavos were all it took for four former agriculture officials to earn prison terms and get disqualified from government service for life.
The four officials were found guilty by the Sandiganbayan for awarding a contract for P2.5 million worth of water supply system materials contract to a contractor whose bid exceeded the approved budget by a mere 40 centavos.
Former DA Region 11 officials Roger Chio, who was the regional executive director at the time; Romulo Palcon, regional technical director and bids and awards committee chairman; Alma Mahinay, SBAC vice chairman and finance division chief; and Godofredo Ramos of the administration office and SBAC provisional member; were sentenced to six to eight years in jail and suffer disqualification from government employment for life.
The anti-graft court said the four failed to dispute the prosecution’s allegation that the contract for water supply system materials was awarded to PZA Trading in Davao City in 2006 to the tune of P2,591,435.40 million when PZA Trading should have been disqualified since its bid is .40 centavos more than the approved budget of contract (ABC) which is P2,591,435.00.
The 24-page Sandiganbayan decision said, “An examination of Purchase Request 2006-3114,74 which predates the Invitation to Apply for Eligibility and to Bid would show that the total cost indicated is indeed P2,591,435.40. But the amount in the Purchase Request is not the ABC. The ABC is the amount indicated in the Invitation to Apply for Eligibility and to Bid or P2,591,435.00. The difference may be minuscule, but there is no question that P2,591,435.40 is greater than P2,591,435.00.”
“Accused Palcon, Mahinay and Ramos should have rated PZA’s bid as ‘failed,’ and disqualified it outright. Accused Chio, for his part, should not have awarded the subject contract to PZA, and instead, should have rejected PZA’s bid and declared a failure of bidding, on the ground that the Special Bids and Awards Committee failed to follow the prescribed bidding procedures.”
In addition, the Sandiganbayan said Palcon, Mahinay and Ramos’s act of recommending the award of the subject contract, as well as Chio’s act of awarding the subject contract to PZA when it should have been disqualified, “constitutes gross inexcusable negligence at the very least.”
“The prosecution proved beyond reasonable doubt all the elements of violation of Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. Wherefore, accused Roger Chio, Romulo Palcon, Alma Mahinay and Godofredo Ramos are found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violation of Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.”