Ombudsman: Dismiss ex-Cebu execs over CICC anomalies

MANILA, Philippines – Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has ordered the dismissal and perpetual disqualification from the service of 9 Cebu officials in connection with irregularities in the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) project in 2006.

Among those ordered dismissed for grave misconduct and gross neglect of duty is Eduardo Habin, former Cebu provincial administrator and bids and awards committee (BAC) chairman, the Ombudsman said in a press statement on Thursday, December 17.

The others are former BAC members Bernard Calderon, Marino Martinquilla, Cristina Giango, Adolfo Quiroga, Necias Vicoy Jr, Roy Salubre, Emme Gingoyon, and Eulogio Pelayre.

Morales directed the Office of the Cebu Governor to immediately implement the decision.

She said the respondents “flagrantly transgressed and disregarded well-established rules on bidding and definite rules of action” under the Government Procurement Reform Act or Republic Act No. 9184, in connection with the CICC project, built for the Philippine hosting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Leaders' Summit held in January 2007.

Aside from perpetual disqualification from public service,  the respondents were meted out the accessory penalties of forfeiture of retirement benefits, cancellation of eligibility, and bar from taking the civil service examination.

In case of separation from the service, the penalty is convertible to a fine equivalent to respondent’s one year salary, the Ombudsman said.

'Anomalous procurement'

The case stemmed from a complaint filed by the Public Assistance and Corruption Prevention Office in the Visayas.

In 2005, then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo designated Cebu as the venue for the 12th ASEAN Summit in January 2007.  

In February 2006, the local government tapped WT Construction Incorporated (WTCI) as the contractor for the construction of the CICC.

An audit of the Commission on Audit showed that the respondents allowed WTCI to proceed with the site development, structural, architectural, plumbing, and electrical works without any public bidding, written contracts, and approved appropriations. 

The procurement for phase II of the project amounting to P59.6 million, structural steel works priced at P307 million, and other works, were awarded through negotiated procurement or limited source bidding (LSB).  

The Ombudsman said that under the RA 9184, LSB is used for the procurement of “highly specialized goods” such as “sophisticated defense equipment or complex air navigation systems.”

The Ombudsman held that the former Cebu officials are liable for the procurement of items not justified for negotiated procurement.

The investigators also found that the BAC recommendation of resorting to LSB for the supply of air conditioning units worth P26.5 million was made two months after the respondents issued a notice of award. – Rappler.com