Suspended officials

DA officers favor P3M disinfectant despite lower P2.6M bid

THE SANDIGANBAYAN has suspended three officials of the regional office of the Department of Agriculture in Davao who are facing graft charges.

Placed under 90-day suspension by the anti-graft court are Senior Agriculturists Melanie Provido and Isabelita Buduan, and Administrative Officer Marie Ann Constantino, who all stand trial for allegedly violating Section 3 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019).

The accused, who were all members of the Technical Working Group on the procurement of disinfectants in 2012, were arraigned in January 2017.

 Based on the records, the Office of the Ombudsman found the accused entered into a grossly and manifestly disadvantageous contract with FKA Agri-Chemical for the procurement of 38 drums of disinfectant amounting to P3.04 million despite the existence of a lower bid from another qualified bidder amounting to only P2.64 million.

 In suspending the respondents, the Sandiganbayan cited Section 13 of R.A. No. 3019, which states that any incumbent officer against whom any criminal prosecution under a valid information under this law is pending in court shall be suspended from office.

 It also junked the contention of the defense that “they are not in a position to tamper with any kind of evidence as they are not the custodians of any relevant records, and that the deprivation of their salary as well as the humiliation and embarrassment that they will suffer will cause undue suffering and prejudice to them.”

The Sandiganbayan explained that “Section 13 of R.A. No. 3019 is very straightforward. It is a preventive suspension, not a penalty, and its purpose is to prevent the accused public officer from hampering the prosecution by intimidating or influencing witnesses, tampering with documentary evidence, or committing further acts of malfeasance while in office.”