Ombudsman orders filing of graft raps vs. ex-Muntinlupa mayor, 12 others
By Perfecto T. Raymundo

MANILA, Nov. 18 (PNA) -- The Office of the Ombudsman (Ombudsman) has ordered the filing of graft charges against former Muntinlupa City Mayor Aldrin San Pedro and 12 others in connection with the alleged anomalous awarding of contracts for the construction of health and daycare centers in 2009 amounting to Php47.2 million.

In a 36-page resolution signed by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, San Pedro and 12 others were ordered charged with violation of Section 3 (e) of Republic Act No. 3019, or the "Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act", for the awarding of 14 projects to various private contractors in March 2009 without holding a public bidding, which is mandated under RA No. 9184, or the "Government Procurement Reform Act".

"The fact that in all the aforementioned fourteen infrastructure projects, respondents repeatedly failed to follow the requirements of RA No. 9184 as well as its implementing rules and regulations on public bidding, establishes that unwanted benefit, advantage or preference was given to the declared winning bidders," the Ombudsman resolution said.

Also ordered charged with the same offense were former city administrator and chairman of the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) Roberto Bunyi, former city legal officer and BAC vice chairman Michael Racelis, former city engineer Vicente Navarro, former city budget officer Avelino Orellana, former Procurement Office head Sonia Laureta and former BAC members Peter Salonga and Rodolfo Oliquindo.

Likewise ordered charged were private respondents Arturo Melendrez, general manager of AP Melendez Construction Inc.; Dennis Labao, general manager of VF Labao Construction; Loida Dureza, general manager of ASRO Trading and Construction; Tirso De Jesus, general manager of PDJ Integrated Construction and Juvanni Bernard Espejo, general manager of JBA Espejo Construction Corp.

The Ombudsman said that San Pedro and the 12 other respondents conspired in making it apppear that the biddings were conducted to show that the awarding of the contracts complied with procurement rules, when in fact, not a single bidding ever took place.

The contracts were for the supposed construction of eight units of one-storey daycare centers, four units of two-storey daycare centers, a police station and a two-storey health center.

"Respondent A.L. San Pedro awarded the contracts to the declared winning bidders despite deficiencies in the submitted bidding documents," the Ombudsman said.

It said that the contracts were also awarded to the private respondents even before their certificate of eligibility to participate in a supposed bidding was issued by the BAC.

It noted that the Abstracts of Bids did not also bear the signatures of the members of BAC and the Technical Working Group (TWG).

"If indeed public bidding was conducted, the Abstracts of Bids should have borne the signatures of the members of TWG in addition to the signatures of the BAC members appearing thereon," the Ombudsman said.

"The Office thus finds unrefuted the claim of the complainant that the infrastructure projects were awarded without public bidding," it added. (PNA)

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