N. Vizcaya execs bought car bling worth P.7M sans bidding
BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya–The provincial government has surreptitiously purchased car accessories worth almost P700,000 for 12 sports utility vehicles (SUVs) of board members here without following the law and procedures on government procurement, documents have revealed.
Records showed that as early June last year, members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, who were each issued brand new Toyota Fortuner units, bought car accessories worth P682,823 without public bidding, in violation of Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act.
A listing of the items bought also revealed that the board members had installed accessories on their vehicles not classified by law as necessary, but merely for ornament and comfort.
The questioned purchases were made by the provincial government despite the graft case filed against Gov. Ruth Padilla and the 13 board members for the allegedly anomalous purchase of the 12 Fortuners, which cost the government some P18.5 million and were also bought without public bidding.
Sought for comment, Vice Gov. Epifanio Galima, the acting governor, confirmed the purchase of the accessories, but said he did not know anything about the transactions.
“When I came to know about it, I learned that the purchases have already been completed,” he said in an interview.
Sources privy to the transactions revealed that days after the 12 Toyota Fortuners were delivered to the provincial government last year, board members, allegedly through board member Efren Quiben, contracted a local supplier for the purchase of accessories.
The items were reportedly bought on credit with a local supplier, with Quiben, the SP appropriations chair, supposedly giving assurance of their payment.
“We can easily find funds for that,” he was quoted as having told other board members.
This writer sought Quiben for comment, but he said he did not want be interviewed.
“Just ask (the office of the governor) about it,” he said on July 6.
Among the items installed on the SUVs, the lists showed, included whole sets of leather seat covers; global positioning satellite (GPS) devices; roof carriers; chrome fittings for head, rear, and fog lights; stainless exhaust extensions; back up sensors with camera; and decorative license plate frames.
Documents obtained by this writer bared that Quiben’s vehicle received accessories worth P101,695.20, the most for any of the members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.
The other SUVs issued to board members Victor Gines, Dolores Binwag, Donior Tidang, Filma Perez, Pepito Balgos, Santiago Dickson, Merlie Talingdan, Percival Primo Marcos, Nestor Sevillena, Johnny Liban and Flodemonte Gerdan were each installed with a uniform set of accessories worth P52,829.80.
In separate interviews, members of the provincial bids and awards committee (BAC) said the processing of the purchase was already underway, but claimed that they were unaware of any irregularity.
They all asked not to be named for fear of harassment from officials involved.
RA 9184 requires all government purchases shall be done through competitive bidding, with some exceptions using “alternative modes of procurement”.
However, sources in the provincial government, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisal, said the SP have split the purchases into two transactions, in an effort to evade the requirement of the law that would submit the deal to mandatory public bidding.
After the purchases were made to appear to have been split into two, these were already considered “small purchases”, allowing for each transaction to be carried out through the “shopping” method, sources said.
In this mode, the purchasing office simply solicits price quotations from three accredited suppliers, and the trader with the lowest quote gets the deal.
Payment for the first transaction has already been made, records showed, but allegedly with the use of falsified documents, with changes mainly on the dates to make it appear that the accessories were bought prior to their installation.
Records showed that the provincial government has already paid P367,071, through a Landbank of the Philippines check dated May 21, 2015. The funds for the payment were reportedly sourced from the SP’s allotment for motor vehicle repair and maintenance for 2015.
The payment of the second tranche is being processed by SP staff, it was revealed, but with the use of undated price quotation forms.#