More trou­ble hounds Oca

Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro - - Front Page - By PJ Orias

City Mayor Os­car Moreno is fac­ing yet an­other le­gal bat­tle at the anti-graft court af­ter the Of­fice of the Om­buds­man or­dered the fil­ing of ad­di­tional graft charges for ac­tions done dur­ing Moreno’s time at the pro­vin­cial capi­tol.

Moreno had got­ten re­lief from the Court of Ap­peals (CA) a day be­fore re­gard­ing the Om­buds­man’s six dis­missal or­ders also stem­ming from the lease of heavy equip­ment con­tracts from 2007 to 2012, when he was still Misamis Ori­en­tal gover­nor and for which the Com­mis­sion on Au­dit (COA) had pre­vi­ously is­sued a No­tice of Disal­lowances.

The No­tice of Disal­lowance had be­come fi­nal and ex­ecu­tory on Jan­uary 2015.

A No­tice of Disal­lowance is is­sued if an au­di­tor finds ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties in a gov­ern­ment project and which di­rects the con­cerned agency or of­fi­cials to re­turn the money.

In its 16 sep­a­rate res­o­lu­tions, the Om­buds­man found prob­a­ble cause to or­der the fil­ing of 18 counts

against Moreno, and co-ac­cused ex-Pro­vin­cial Ac­coun­tant Div­ina Bade (16 counts) and Bids and Awards Com­mit­tee (BAC) mem­bers, namely: ex-Pro­vin­cial Le­gal Of­fi­cer Can­cio Gui­bone (one count), ex-Pro­vin­cial Bud­get Of­fi­cer Elmer Wabe (17 counts), exProvin­cial Ad­min­is­tra­tor Pa­trick Gabutina (16 counts), ex-As­sis­tant Pro­vin­cial En­gi­neer Rolando Pacuri­bot (18 counts), ex-Pro­vin­cial Agri­cul­tur­ist Danilo Ma­putol (two counts), ex-Pro­vin­cial Gen­eral Ser­vices Of­fi­cer Elsie Lopoy (five counts) and Ad­min­is­tra­tive Aide Leemar Ti­na­gan (three counts).

The Om­buds­man also or­dered the fil­ing of ad­di­tional charges for fal­si­fi­ca­tion of pub­lic doc­u­ments against Moreno (one count), Wabe (four counts), Gabutina (four counts), Pacuri­bot (four counts), Lopoy (four counts), Ma­putol (two counts) and Ti­na­gan (one count).

Ac­cord­ing to the COA Spe­cial Au­dit Re­port on equip­ment rental of the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment of Misamis Ori­en­tal for 2007 to 2012, the road main­te­nance pro­gram of the prov­ince re­ceived the “big­gest share of the non-of­fice projects and that the ex­penses for rental equip­ment is the third big­gest ex­pen­di­ture un­der main­te­nance and other op­er­at­ing ex­penses”.

The COA also stated that the dis­burse­ments for equip­ment rental were ir­reg­u­lar, with trans­ac­tions amount­ing to P20,500,000.00 con­sid­ered as fic­ti­tious as sup­pli­ers de­nied par­tic­i­pa­tion in the bid­ding process.”

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from al­leged con­trac­tors Equiprent, Geo Trans­port and Golden Rich­field had de­nied any trans­ac­tion for equip­ment rental with the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment.

The Om­buds­man also re­it­er­ated that Moreno and the oth­ers, did not con­duct any pub­lic bid­ding “for the multi-mil­lion peso lease deals and sim­ply re­sorted to the al­ter­na­tive method of ‘shop­ping’ to rent tankers and road rollers while an ex­ca­va­tor was pro­cured thru ne­go­ti­ated pro­cure­ment. Sev­eral No­tices of Disal­lowances were is­sued by the COA then, af­ter find­ing that the “bid­ding for the rental was sim­u­lated or rigged.”

In a press con­fer­ence ear­lier this year, Moreno had ar­gued that he set­tled with a ne­go­ti­ated pur­chase mode to ad­dress one of the big­gest prob­lems in the prov­ince im­medeiate­lythe lack of heavy equip­ment for in­fra­struc­ture projects.

The Om­buds­man, how­ever, faulted the re­spon­dents for avail­ing a ne­go­ti­ated pro­cure­ment for the ex­ca­va­tor find­ing that “there is not even a sin­gle doc­u­ment that in­voked the ex­is­tence of an emer­gency sit­u­a­tion.”

It also found out that the rental of the ex­ca­va­tor was al­ready be­ing car­ried out on a monthly ba­sis without show­ing that the BAC was con­vened for the pur­pose of procur­ing ser­vices or goods to ad­dress the al­leged emer­gency sit­u­a­tion.

With re­gards to the fal­si­fi­ca­tion charges, the Om­buds­man said, “Wabe, Gabutina, Pacuri­bot and Lopoy should be held li­able for mak­ing it ap­pear in the Abstract of Can­vass Form that [the con­trac­tors] par­tic­i­pated in the bid­ding, when it truth, they did not.”

As of Wed­nes­day evening, Moreno and his lawyer could not be reached for a com­ment.

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