Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales dismissed the administrative and criminal charges against former Secretary of the Department of Education (DepEd) Jesli Lapus, five other DepED officials, and the President of Jeverps Manufacturing Corporation, Alex Billan, relative to the allegedly rigged biddings that DepEd conducted in 2007 for fortified instant noodles “with fresh eggs” and in 2009 for fortified noodles “with fresh eggs and malunggay” that allegedly resulted to million peso losses by the government due to overpricing.
In an 18-page Joint Resolution approved on March 6, 2012, Ombudsman Morales dismissed the complaints against Lapus, Assistant Secretary for Special Concern Thelma Santos, Bid Awards Committee (BAC) Chairman Teodosio Sangil, BAC Vice Chairman Macur Marohombsar, and BAC Members Demetria Manuel and Nanette Mamoransing, after finding no sufficient evidence to hold respondents either administratively or criminally liable.
The cases stemmed from separate complaints filed by Prudencio Quido, Jr. and Myrna Gonzales for Misconduct and violation of Sec. 3 (e), (f), and (g) of Republic Act No. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act).
In the Resolution, the Ombudsman stated that ”The charge that the biddings were rigged and favorably awarded to one and the same winning bidder was negated by the following undisputed facts: the biddings were posted and published in a newspaper of general circulation; on account of such publication, several public bidders including the complainant’s corporation, Kolonwel Trading, actually bought bid documents in 2007; the required pre-bid conferences for the biddings were duly conducted by the BAC in order to clarify and explain the requirements, terms, conditions and specifications stipulated in the bidding documents; and Jeverps successfully passed the eligibility check and its bids were declared the single calculated and responsive bids for the procurement of noodles in 2007 and 2009, after the other participating bidders either failed the eligibility check or voluntarily withdrew their bids.”
The Resolution pointed out that during the pre-procurement conference, the end-user Health and Nutrition Center of the DepEd was the one which recommended to the BAC that the noodles to be procured should be packed at 100 grams per pack to save on packaging cost, and that the required phrase “with fresh eggs,” instead of merely “eggs,” to be added to the title of the product, was to emphasize the actual use of fresh eggs in the preparation of the noodle dough, and not merely egg powder.
It further stated that that the complainant has not shown “a palpably fraudulent and dishonest purpose to do moral obliquity or conscious wrong doing for some perverse motive or ill-will” on the part of the respondents, nor that the respondents were actuated by evident bad faith, manifest partiality or gross inexcusable negligence during the assailed procurement process.
The Office of the Ombudsman found no substantial evidence to fault the respondents for Misconduct. “In the absence of the actual canvass sheets and/or price quotations from identified suppliers as a valid basis for comparing the prices to the winning bidder, the respondents cannot be held liable for the alleged overpricing of the noodles.” The Resolution stated that the claim of overpricing was not substantiated. The Review Committee headed by then Undersecretary Ramon Bacani found that the price paid by the DepED to the winning bidder was reasonable.
“It appearing that the complainants’ letter of protest and opposition to the awarding of the biddings to Jeverps were seasonably acted upon by the respondents in their reply letter dated 23 February 2009 denying the same for having filed out of time, the respondents cannot be faulted therefor.”
The Certification from Uni-Vietnam Co. Ltd that the noodles do not contain fresh eggs cannot be considered conclusive as the said company is not officially accredited by the Philippine Government to conduct such analysis. Moreover, the test report made by BFAD confirmed the quality and contents of the noodles.
Records also showed that the DepEd conducted a Nutritional Status Report on the Food for School Program, contrary to the complainant’s claim that the DepEd did not conduct “check ups” with students covered by the DepEd feeding project. The complainant did not assail the validity of the said Status Report.
In the Resolution, the Ombudsman stated that the complainants failed to overturn the presumption of regularity in the performance of official duties stands.
DIR. EDGARDO C. DIANSUY
Media Affairs Bureau
Photo via depedteacher.blogspot.com