Zamboanga del Sur officials face graft raps for Php 1.8-M medicine procurement mess

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MANILA (PNA) -- Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has found probable cause to indict former Molave, Zamboanga del Sur Mayor Flavio Saniel, Jr. for violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019, or the "Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act", for a highly questionable procurement of medicines in 2009.

Also charged were members of the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC), namely, Marcos Bahinting; Melita delos Santos; Gasmelba Felicitas; Nikki Omboy; Jerry delos Santos; Martin Blanco, Jr.; Lina Lou Gitalan; and Eleuterio Galleto.

The charges arose from the findings of the Commission on Audit (COA) as contained in its 2012 Audit Investigation Report that Saniel, et al. procured medicines worth Php 1.8 million in 2009 via sham public bidding.

The invitation to bid did not contain details such as the Approved Budget for the Contract, date of opening of bids and list of eligibility requirements.

As a result of the flawed bidding process, the supplier delivered expired medicines worth Php 587,068.40.

The medicines were also overpriced by as much as Php 997,193.60.

The COA also noted that Vitamin A capsules bought at a total of Php 645,620 were actually distributed free of charge by the Department of Health (DOH).

In sum, the COA said that the scheme resulted in ghost deliveries of medicines amounting to Php 1,292,254.80.

Ombudsman Morales said that "what is even more significant is the apparent haste in which the supposed bidding were conducted" as "the medicines were paid for, delivered and inspected immediately the day after the bidding although bidders are from Parañaque City, Quezon City and Pasay City."