Friday, July 30, 2010

6 Comelec execs suspended -, Philippine News for Filipinos

6 Comelec execs suspended -, Philippine News for Filipinos

By Philip Tubeza, Kristine L. Alave
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 03:27:00 07/30/2010
Filed Under: Graft & Corruption, Eleksyon 2010

MANILA, Philippines—Ombudsman Ma. Merceditas Gutierrez has ordered the suspension for six months without pay of six Commission on Elections (Comelec) officials accused of involvement in the P700-million ballot secrecy folders scandal.
Placed under preventive suspension were Comelec Executive Director Jose M. Tolentino Jr.; Comelec bids and awards committee (BAC) chair Maria Lea R. Alarkon; and BAC members Allen Francis B. Abaya, Maria Norina T. Casingal, Martin B. Niedo and Antonio B. Santella.
Gutierrez said that the facts and circumstances of the case showed sufficient justification for the preventive suspension of the respondents.
Comelec Chair Jose Melo yesterday said the en banc has already issued a resolution to implement the order and suspension will take effect today.
He declined to comment on the Ombudsman’s order. “I don’t want to express one way or another. It’s the decision of the Ombudsman,” he said.
Of the seven en banc members, only Commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer declined to sign the resolution ordering the suspension of the six, he said.
Ferrer argued for the deferment of the suspension until the six have filed their appeal.
The case involves the award of the allegedly overpriced P700-million contract to the OTC Paper Supply to provide the Comelec with 1.8 million ballot secrecy folders (BSF) for the May 10 automated elections.
The Comelec en banc ordered an investigation of the contract after the commissioners said they had been misled by the price quoted for the folders, which was P380 each.
The names of Tolentino and the BAC members came up in the internal probe and the ensuing report by the investigating team headed by Comelec law department chief Ferdinand Rafanan.
Not patented
Rafanan’s report—which found, among other things, that the folders were not patented as the respondent officials had claimed, and that the specifications for the folders came from OTC Paper Supply—was submitted to the Ombudsman last June.
The Comelec refused to suspend the six officials, saying it was up to the Ombudsman to make the decision.
After its own investigation, the Ombudsman’s field investigation office (FIO) filed an administrative complaint against the six for violating the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees; and dishonesty, gross neglect of duty, grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.
It also filed a parallel criminal case against the same Comelec officials and two private individuals for violating the Anti-Graft Law.
The complaint alleged that Tolentino, as head of the specifications committee, “provided unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference to OTC Paper Supply by making prior arrangements and/or divulging valuable and confidential information to them.”
The FIO said this was “shown by OTC’S astonishing speed to produce a tailor-fitted, Comelec-approved, BSF design in just a matter of days.”
The Ombudsman investigation showed that on Feb. 9, 2010, the OTC submitted a proposal to the Comelec offering for sale their version of BSF to be used for the May 2010 elections. On Feb. 11, Tolentino presented to the Comelec en banc the OTC prototype for its consideration.
Barely six days later, Tolentino was able to present the second OTC prototype bearing all the modifications in accordance with the en banc’s concerns.
Melo said that Rafanan will take over as permanent chair of the BAC

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It fits the new administration's call for change. Thank you, Lhen for spreading the good news! God bless you!