Ombudsman suspends Basilan vice-mayor for grave misconduct 

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DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The Office of the Ombudsman has found former Lamitan, Basilan Mayor (now Vice Mayor) Roderick Furigay, guilty of Grave Misconduct and was meted the penalty of six months suspension without pay.

The members of the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) Chairman Florence Herrera, Acting City Accountant Nilo Sotto, BAC members: Ignacio Enriquez, Olivia Ablao, and Raquel Hibionada were also found guilty of Simple Misconduct and were ordered suspended for one month.

Investigation disclosed that in 2012, respondents paid P548,256.00 to HHH Developer and Real Estate, Inc. (HDRI) for the supply of construction materials in connection with its Kulay-Bato Boat Landing Project and P175,000.00 to Furigay College, Inc., (FCI) for its five-day scuba diving course as part of its Geographical Protection and Awareness Program.

Ombudsman investigators found out that respondent Furigay is closely related to the owners and incorporators of HDRI and FCI.

Despite this, and HDRI and FCI’s failure to submit affidavits of disclosure of relationship, the city still awarded the contract to the two businesses.

As a result, the Commission on Audit disallowed the payments in June 2012 and ordered their immediate refund.  In October 2012, HDRI and FCI refunded the amount of P723,256.00 to the local government.

In its Decision, the Ombudsman stated that “respondents Furigay as the approving officer of the contracts and the ensuing disbursements, Sotto as the certifier of the regularity as well as the completeness of the supporting documents, and Herrera, Enriquez, Ablao and Hibionada as the BAC members, who recommended the award, are liable for misconduct.

The Ombudsman stated that, “the impression that suppliers who have a relationship with the procuring entity are given preference, and the appearance of unlawfulness or impropriety that arises when purchase transactions are entered with them, should have cautioned respondents to be extra careful with their actions.”

“Respondent Furigay’s act of permitting the business transaction of his close relatives lacked the necessary justifications as to render them aboveboard, not to mention that the supporting procurement documents are highly questionable, gives away a contrary disposition on his part, and his tendency to succumb to corruption,” the Ombudsman added.-Jiann A. Padillo/Newsline.ph

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