Seven regional DA execs charged for pork misuse

A HIGH official of the Department of Agriculture has refrained from issuing an official statement on the Office of the Ombudsman ruling to file cases against regional executives over the misuse of the pork barrel of Davao Oriental Rep. Joel Mayo Almario in 2005.

“With due respect, I won’t make any statement yet,” Ricardo M. Oñate Jr., regional executive director of Department of Agriculture (DA XI).

The Office of the Ombudsman recommended that charges be filed against Roger Chio (former regional executive director); Romulo Palcon (former regional technical director); Alma Mahinay (chief, finance division); Godofredo Ramos (administrative officer); Onofre Nugal (chief, agricultural engineering division); Jamie Bergonio (former chief agriculturist) and Isagani Basco (former chief administrative officer) for multiple counts of violation of Sec. 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019).

In three separate resolutions approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, the report found that Chio and others facilitated the procurement and payment of the following items in 2005: 100 units of multimedia system with computer set P10,000,000; water system materials worth P2,591,435.40; 81 units of personalized 10 x 20 livelihood tent with framing worth P2,496,582; with a total of P15,088,017.40.

The funding for the water system materials was sourced from Almario’s share from the Ginintuang Masaganang Ani Rice and Corn Program.

The anti-graft body also found that respondents failed to comply with the required bidding procedure as they did not conduct any pre-procurement or any pre-bid conferences for the projects and failed to publish any invitation to bid as required under the Government Procurement Reform Act (Republic Act No. 9184).

Records also showed that the respondents did not dispute that the procurement requirements were not complied with but raised the common defense that “they did not have any involvement in the bidding process.”

Morales, in the resolution, noted “this is untenable.”

“The wanton disregard of a plain and simple policy of the law that defeated the principle of transparency and competitiveness in the procurement process is sufficient to establish that respondents acted with evident bad faith, manifest partiality or gross inexcusable negligence,” the resolution read.

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