3 employees of Sta. Barbara town dismissed over irregular bidding process

ILOILO City, Aug. 21 (PNA) – Three department heads of the municipal government of Sta. Barbara, Iloilo were found guilty of grave misconduct by the Office of the Ombudsman due to irregular bidding of the town’s infrastructure projects.

The three were Municipal Engineer Noel T. Jaspe (Bids and Awards Vice Chairman), Municipal Budget Officer Ma. Negenia V. Araneta (BAC member) and Municipal Agriculturist Sanny Apuang (BAC member).

In its resolution, the Ombudsman found respondents guilty of the administrative offense of grave misconduct and were meted the penalty of dismissal from the service with accessory penalties of cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits, perpetual disqualification from holding public office and bar from taking civil service examination.

The complaint for grave misconduct against the three was filed by the Public Assistance and Corruption Prevention Office (PACPO) of the Office of the Ombudsman and Agustin Sonza.

The case against the three stemmed from the alleged irregularity in the bidding and awarding of five infrastructure projects that include the concreting of Libertad and Arroyo Streets; asphalt overlay of Castilla Street; concreting of Sodusta Street; asphalting of Arroyo Street; and construction of the Fish Section building.

The Ombudsman conducted a fact-finding investigation while the Commission on Audit (COA) 6 conducted special audit examination.

The three bidders which joined the bidding were AFG Construction and Construction Supply, Topmost Development and Marketing Corporation (TMDC) and F. Gurrea Construction, Inc. (FGCI).

In his complaint, Sonza alleged that the said projects was rigged by two bidders, TMDC and FGCI, in collusion with the BAC of the municipality.

During the opening of bids, AFG Construction and Construction Supply verbally notified the BAC of the withdrawal of their bid for five infrastructure projects.

On the other hand, TMDC withdrew its bid for numbers two and four projects while FGCI opted to forgo its bid on numbers 1, 3 and 5.

BAC member Genaro Sonza questioned the withdrawal of the bids and averred that BAC should have been informed of their withdrawal before dropping their respective bids and they seemed to have conspired with each other to divide the projects between them.

COA’s special audit examination also revealed that TMDC and FGCI have interlocking board of directors and incorporators and shared the same principal office address.

Meanwhile, Sta. Barbara Mayor Dennis Superficial is directed to implement the decision with request to promptly submit to the Ombudsman a compliance report. (PNA)