Ombudsman fires 3 Bukidnon NIA execs over P9.44-M fertilizer scam

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DAVAO CITY (June 1) —The Office of the Ombudsman ordered the dismissal from the service of three officials from the National Irrigation Authority (NIA) Bukidnon Provincial Irrigation Office after uncovering multiple irregularities in the 2009 procurement of fertilizers worth P9,447,200.00.

Found guilty of Gross Neglect of Duty are NIA Division Manager Editha Abdon, Administrative and Finance Head Adelina Calonge and Principal Engineer Leonila Tenestrante.

Investigation found that in June 2009, the NIA Regional Office (RO) received P10million for the implementation of the Department of Agriculture’s bio-organic fertilizer program.

Out of this fund, the NIA RO purchased thousands of bags/liters of organic fertilizers and pesticides from the following suppliers: 3K & C Enterprises, Dating Bayan Agro Industrial Corporation, MLB Enterprises and EMP Feed Mix Manufacturing.

It was uncovered that the suppliers failed to meet the required product specifications and quality standards; projects were awarded without the benefit of public bidding; supplier 3K is a business firm owned by Regina Salazar, wife of then NIA Administrator Carlos Salazar; there was splitting of projects; and no post-qualification proceedings were undertaken to ensure the capability of the suppliers to undertake the project.

In the Ombudsman Decision, it was stated that “the following respondents committed serious Neglect of Duty: Abdon and Calonge by certifying that the supporting documents for the first tranche disbursements were complete, when in fact this was not the case; and Tenestrante for failing to conduct real post-qualification of MLB as required by Republic Act No. 9184 (Government Procurement Reform Act).”

“As there was no justification for the resort to shopping, not to mention the apparent splitting of the P9,477,200.00, Abdon should not have permitted the disbursements from the fund.  The same is true with respect to Calonge. As such Head, she also allowed this disbursement notwithstanding the lack of public bidding.”

The penalty of dismissal from the service carries the accessory penalties of perpetual disqualification from holding public office, forfeiture of retirement benefits, bar from taking the civil service exam, and cancellation of civil service eligibility.-ezc/NewsLine.ph

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