FOUR former officials of the Department of Agriculture – Regional Field Unit 11 (DARFU 11) have been sentenced to six to eight years of imprisonment for corruption by the Sandiganbayan Sixth Division – all because of a P0.40 difference in a contractor’s bid and the project’s funding.
Found guilty of graft for awarding a supply contract to a disqualified bidder were DARFU 11 regional executive director Roger Chio, regional technical director Romulo Palcon, finance division chief Alma Mahinay, and administrative officer Godofredo Ramos.
Palcon, Mahinay and Ramos were members of the Special Bids and Awards Committee (SBAC) that reviewed the bid offers and recommended the award of the contract to PZA Trading whose offer was higher than the available funding.
On top of incarceration, the officials were also barred for life from government service regardless of position.
Records showed that DARFU 11 awarded a supply contract to PZA Trading in October 2006 for the delivery of water system materials.
The anti-graft court said PZA Trading should have been disqualified outright because its bid offer of P2,591,435.40 exceeded the Approved Budget for the Contract (ABC) which was set at P2,591,435.00 – a difference of 40 centavos.
“The discrepancy between the amount of the bid and the ABC… is a ground for not awarding the subject contract to PZA. The difference may be minuscule, but there is no question that P2,591,435.40 is greater than P2,591,435.00,” the Sandiganbayan ruled.
Defendants claimed they thought the omission of P0.40 was due to a mere typographical error but the court noted that the Invitation to Apply for Eligibility and to Bid set the budget at P2,591,435.00.
Having seen the disparity, the court held that the Bids and Awards Committee should have declared a “failed bidding” and disqualified PZA outright.
“Accused Palcon, Mahinay, and Ramos’ act of recommending the award of the subject contract, and accused Chio’s act of awarding the subject contract to PZA, when it should have been disqualified, constitutes gross inexcusable negligence at the very least,” the court said.