MANILA, Philippines - Three local official in Polangui, Albay were ordered dismissed from the service for the purchase of 1,315 bottles of fertilizer for P5 million.
In a 12-page ruling signed last November 19, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales found sufficient evidence against Ma. Jimalyn Sabater, municipal accountant; Anna Robrigado, municipal treasurer and Renato Silo, municipal agriculturist.
Morales said in the ruling that the three municipal employees are guilty of grave misconduct, dishonesty, and conduct grossly prejudicial to the best interest of the service.
Morales said that elements of corruption, clear intent to violate the law or flagrant disregard of established rule, are manifest in the respondents' act of hastily resorting to direct contracting, specifying in the purchase request and purchase order the brand name "Young Magic Foliar Fertilizer", and disregarding the required public bidding which gave the fertilizer supplier, Madarca Trading, an opportunity to overcharge the government in the amount of P4,819,187.50.
The ruling said that "the respondents' acts clearly show intention to violate Section 3(e) and (g) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. Violation of this law constitutes grave misconduct."
Morales said that the three municipal employees gave the Madarca Trading unwarranted benefits, advantage and preference by not conducting a public bidding.
The Ombudsman also found as misplaced the respondents' arguments that "direct contracting is proper and appropriate because 'Young Magic Foliar Fertilizer' is sold by an exclusive dealer or manufacturer" after finding that Madarca Trading is not an exclusive dealer or manufacturer of foliar fertilizer.
The Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA) was able to canvass the prices of foliar fertilizer for the month of September 2004, which shows that the supplier of foliar liquid fertilizer is not exclusive to Madarca Trading.
The Ombudsman also said that the respondents also caused undue injury to the government.
It added that the prevailing price of "Young Magic Foliar Fertilizer" in 2004 was only P125 per liter but the municipal government of Polangui bought the fertilizer at P3,800 per liter or a total overprice of P4,819,187.50.