May 5-11, 2011

DILG-XI legal dept: no comment on COA’s special audit on CISA controversial contract

TAGUM CITY- The Office of the Ombudsman for Mindanao has started probing on whether the case of hiring involving two provincial employees being relatives of department heads is violative or not to the law against nepotism in government service.
Atty. Arizona Martin Boiser, graft investigator 3 of the Davao City-based Ombudsman for Mindanao, has recently asked the Capitol’s management in pursuant to Republic Act No. 6770 to furnish him copies of 201 files of Sonio Sanchez, brother of provincial general services officer Samson Sanchez and who is now a division head of the Provincial Administrator’s Office (PADO), and of Rowena Peligro, brother of the late provincial administrator Rufo Peligro and who is now an administrative officer of Carmen District Hospital.
Atty. Boiser also had asked a copy of the Merit Promotion Plan and the composition of the Placement Board at the time when the two were hired.
The Ombudsman’s move stems from the complaint letter allegedly made sometime last year by legislative secretariat employees Alex Delola and Roderick Puno.
Reached for comment earlier, Delola denied that the complaint letter was made by him, saying that he had already executed an affidavit before provincial prosecutor Ruben Pasamonte denying that the complaint letter was his.
He said the letter was fictitious on his part, adding that his name was just used by someone who wanted to destroy the respondents and that his signature in the letter was forged.
Puno could not yet be reached for comment, but sources said that he suffered the same fate with Dedola.
At presstime, the younger Peligro and younger Sanchez could not also be reached for comments.
Civil Service Commission chairperson Francisco T. Duque III on the day the elected officials of the last May 2010 election assumed office reminded all government officials and employees that “nepotism is a form of corruption that weakens morale and productivity in the public sector, promotes patronage politics, and breeds public distrust on government.”
“Any nepotic act or circumvention of the law should be brought to light so that such blatant abuse of power will be stopped,” Duque added.
He underscored that nepotism rules under Section 9, Rule XIII of CSC Memorandum Circular No. 40 of 1998 which provides the “Revised Omnibus Rules on Appointments and Other Personnel Actions.”
The Rule states “No appointment in the national, provincial, city or municipal governments or any branch or instrumentality thereof, including government owned or controlled corporations with original charters shall be made in favor of relative or the appointing or recommending authority, or of the chief of the bureau or office or of the person exercising immediate supervision over the appointee.”
“Unless otherwise provided by law, the word “relative” and the members of the family referred to are those related within the third degree either of consanguinity or of affinity,” CSC MC No. 40 clarifies.
The rule further stresses that “In the local government career service, the prohibition extends to the relatives of the appointing or recommending authority, within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity.”
However, the nepotism rule exempts the following: persons employed in a confidential capacity, teachers, physicians and members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Moreover, according to the memorandum circular, “the nepotism rule covers all kinds of appointments whether original, promotional, transfer and reemployment regardless of status including casuals and contractuals, except consultants.”
Duque cited CSC Resolution No. 091264 dated September 1, 2009 involving the case of former Director III of Aurora Provincial Office of the Technical Education and Skills Development (Tesda), Ponciano S. Catipon Jr., who was said to have been dismissed from office “for violation of the rule on nepotism relative to the appointment of his brother to the TESD specialist position.”
Based on this case, the CSC stressed “an appointment is considered nepotic when issued to a person who is related to the chief of office or bureau within the prohibited degree of relationship, regardless of whether or not the aforesaid chief of office has exerted undue influence on the recommending or appointing authority.”
Meanwhile, instead of directly commenting on the particular procurement case in the Capitol involving the controversial awarding of the security services contract that had allegedly bypassed the powers of the acting governor and of the sanggunian, the chief of the legal department of the Dept. of Interior and Local Government regional office has clarified a Supreme Court ruling that might have relevance to the case.
In an interview with the Valley & City Chronicle, Atty. Erwin Enad said the Supreme has already “harmonized” provisions of the local government code (Republic Act 7160) and the procurement law (RA 9184) that first seemed to conflict against each other in the issue seeking prior authorization from the sanggunian when the local government engages in a procurement-related contract.
He added that as clarified in the Quisumbing ruling of the Supreme Court, the basic principle is that “all contracts should have prior authority from the sanggunian” and the exception where the local chief executive would no longer need to seek prior sanggunian authorization is when he would only enforce the contract as it “provides details” or “there’s nothing more that bars the chief executive that he only acts on ministerial basis.”
He refused to comment on the controversial security services contract awarded to the Christian Investigation Security Agency which now secures the Capitol from contractual security personnel before, saying that it now depends on the “special audit” being made by the Commission on Audit on the case.
Earlier, the team leader of the Commission of Audit (COA) audit team for the Davao del Norte Capitol elevated to the regional office the audit case involving the security services contract between the provincial government and the CISA that has become controversial when Vice Governor Victorio “Baby” Suaybaguio Jr was allegedly bypassed when the contract was suddenly implemented on January 1, 2011.
COA audit team leader Susan Querequincia said in an earlier interview that after she and her supervising auditor Vivien Jumaoas had discussed issues relating the controversial contract they “decided to elevate it to our regional office for resolution.”
She added that COA’s audit findings in their level are not jibing with the explanations made by the management of the provincial government to the audit questions raised relating to the bidding and awarding of the contract to CISA.
Querequincia earlier sent her audit memorandum for the office of the governor to explain. The Capitol management replied with the explanation letter dated February 16, 2011.
She said that specifically the matter would be first referred to the legal department of the COA-XI.
She also earlier said that she would have “to check and study yet the signatory, legality and scope of the contract”.
The Capitol’s P6.3 million security services contract with CISA has become a running controversy when issues came up that it was allegedly rushed by executive department officials in the remaining days of last December while Vice Gov. Suaybaguio and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan were reportedly bypassed of their respective functions and authority to first approve a contract before it would be implemented.
Suaybaguio was the sitting acting governor at that time in view of the governor’s personal travel to the US to visit his recuperating son Cong. Anthony del Rosario, who took a leave of absence before congressmen nationwide assumed office on July 1, 2010. The congressman is still in Palo Alto, California recuperating after his chemotherapy treatment and stem cell transplant to cure his hodgkin lymphoma cancer.
The P6.3-million security services contract was awarded by the Bids and Awards Committee chaired by provincial general services officer Samson Sanchez to CISA last December 28 and four days after, on January 1, 2011, had the CISA guards already securing the Capitol complex, replacing the over 60 contractual security personnel even without the required Notice to Proceed supposedly to be issued by the acting governor.
The governor re-assumed office on January 8, 2011. He left the country on December 20, 2010.
After his arrival in the province, he later signed the contract.
Earlier, Sanchez said that the BAC duly followed the bidding processes for the security services and that its documents and legality of the BAC actions were scrutinized and cleared by the provincial legal officer Atty. Jennifer Namoc, who is also a BAC member.
He also said that based on Republic Act No. 9184, or the Government Procurement Reform Act procuring security services is like procuring goods and services and does not require the prior approval of contract by the SP.
But the law says that in such case there is still a need for a Notice to Proceed to be issued by the head of the agency within seven days after the contract’s approval.
CISA is the second lowest bidder of the transaction following the Butuan City-based United Field Sea Watchman and Checkers Agency (UFSWCA), which won the bidding but was knocked out by the BAC for failure to submit final bidding requirements making it an unresponsive bidder.
The vice governor was not furnished with the bidding and award papers although he was promised to be given instead a report on the chronology of the transaction which did not materialize at all during the time when he sit as the acting governor. (Rural Urban News/Cha Monforte)

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