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Bacolod City Mayor Leonardia ordered dismissed.

The Ombudsman has ordered the dismissal of Bacolod City Mayor Evelio 'Bing' Leonardia for alleged irregularities in the purchase of office equipment, furniture and fixtures amounting to about P49 million in 2008.

In a 21-page joint resolution signed by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales on Dec. 13, 2016, the Ombudsman also indicted Leonardia for graft after the anti-graft body found probable cause to charge him for violating Republic Act 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act).

Leonardia said his lawyers filed a motion for reconsideration on January 11.

'This was a surprise to us because we knew that this case was already close and terminated. But we will face the case and our lawyers will present our arguments in the proper venue,' Leonardia told the INQUIRER in a phone interview.

He declined to elaborate on the merits of the resolution but pointed out that it was 'clear in the Ombudsman resolution that all goods were delivered and there was no money stolen.'

'There was no overprice, no conspiracy and we did not act in bad faith,' the mayor said.

The Ombudsman also indicted for graft and ordered the dismissal from service of nine other city officials and employees.

These included members of the city's bids and awards committee - Goldwyn Nifras (chair), Luzviminda Treyes (vice chair), Nelson Sedillo and Melvin Recabar (secretariat head); and technical working group members Eduardo Ravena, Jaries Ebenizer Encabo, Belly Aguillon, Aladino Agbones; and city treasurer Annabelle Badajos.

The Ombudsman found Leonardia and the other officials and employees guilty of grave misconduct and gross neglect of duty for violating the procurement law and rules and showing partiality to the supplier.

They were meted out the accessory penalties of forfeiture of retirement benefits, perpetual disqualification from holding public office and cancellation of civil service eligibility.

The Ombudsman said in its joint resolution that those found guilty violated procurement rules by awarding the contract to supply 'property, plant and equipment, furniture and fixtures' for the New Bacolod City Government Center to Comfac Corp.

Comfac Corp., a company primarily engaged in information technology systems integration services, was ineligible to bid for the contract because it was a distributor not a manufacturer of furniture, according to the Ombudsman.

The respondents had pointed out that Comfac was eligible because it was the exclusive distributor of its sister company, Cornersteel Corp., which manufactures furniture and fixtures.

'The act of naming an ineligible corporation as the eligible bidder reflects bias and partiality that should not be countenanced in procurement activities using public funds,' according to the Ombudsman resolution.

The Ombudsman said the officials also violated the procurement law and rules by retaining the P500,000 bidder's bond of Comfac and treating it as a performance bond.

The bidder's bond is a fee paid by bidders as a guarantee that the winning bidder will enter into a contract with the procuring office or agency. The performance bond is a guarantee that the winning bidder will comply with its contract obligations.

The Ombudsman said the performance bond should have amounted to P2,452,984.84.

'By merely converting the bid security of P500,000 to performance bond, the respondents exposed the city government to the risk of Comfac not performing its obligation,' according to its resolution.

The anti-graft body also noted that Comfac Corp. should have paid damages amounting to P14,152,717.80 for the delay in the delivery of the goods which reached up to a year and eight months after December 2, 2008, the delivery date.

The respondents had charged the supplier P57,600.01 for a delay of 128 days.

'Undoubtedly, therefore, the city government suffered loss of funds in terms of liquidated damages chargeable to Comfac, which should not have happened had the respondents exercise due diligence in observing (the) procurement law and rules,' the Ombudsman said.

Leonardia, in his counter-affidavit, invoked the condonation (Aguinaldo) doctrine which absolves an elective official of administrative liabilities if the official is re-elected.

But this was rejected by the Ombudsman, citing the Supreme Court ruling abandoning the doctrine.

Leonardia is serving his fifth term as mayor. He served his first term from 1995 to 1998 and another three terms from 2004 to 2013.

He won a fifth term in the May 2016 elections after serving three years as representative of the lone congressional district of Bacolod from 2013-2016.
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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Jan 15, 2017
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