Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya -- The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has submitted 41 documents to the Office of the Ombudsman as evidence to support its findings on the illegal purchase six years ago of a P2.6-million limousine against former Nueva Vizcaya governor and now Rep. Luisa Lloren Cuaresma and other current and former capitol officials.
Lawyer Bensheen Apolinar, chief of the NBI’s Bayombong District Office, said the volume of evidence they have unearthed will reinforce the graft charges over the alleged illegal purchase using the Capitol’s 20 percent development funds in violation of the law.
Apolinar earlier filed before Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales a three-page complaint against Cuaresma, provincial accountant Dominador Dacumos, provincial budget officer Alejandra Dacumos, provincial general services officer Nathaniel Turqueza, former provincial administrator Manuel Tabora and former provincial general services officer Tomas Garra.
Tabora and Garra were former chairman and member, respectively of the bids and awards committee (BAC) of the provincial government.
Also charged was Florentina Sagabaen, former supervising auditor of the Commission on Audit based in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya.
Among the evidence they have, Apolinar said, were two disbursement checks worth P1.8 million and P850,000 covering the purchase, the agreement entered into by the provincial government and Pitstop Motors, Inc. (PMI), among others.
Citing their office’s findings, Apolinar said that sometime in July 2010, the provincial government, headed by then-Governor Cuaresma, purchased a black 2011 model Hyundai Grand Starex Limousine (SKE-678) for P2.6 million from PTI, a dealer of Hyundai Company.
He singled out Cuaresma as the one who initiated, requested and approved the purchase with the help of the BAC which adopted direct contracting as alternative mode of procurement instead of competitive bidding.
Cuaresma and the other accused signed the vouchers, checks, certifications, receipts, letters, purchase and obligation request to facilitate the transaction without observing proper procurement procedures and blatant disregard of the law as the funds used were sourced from the general fund and the 20 percent development funds of the province which requires the approval of the secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Governments (DILG).
Apolinar accused Sagabaen of signing the pre-audit to allow the purchase by signing the pre-audit even if it lacks the necessary documents and for failing to make an audit report during her tenure as COA provincial supervising auditor.
Central to the complaint were the joint affidavits executed by lawyers Voltaire Garcia and Epifanio Delbert Galima III, the provincial legal officer and assistant legal officer, respectively and the affidavit of Jeremiah Ian Rivera, a casual employee in Garcia’s office.
Garcia and Galima said the issue over the purchase of the limousine surfaced after the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) passed a resolution on January 19, 2015 requesting Cuaresma’s successor, then-Governor Ruth Padilla, to direct employees to provide documents covering the purchase.
Padilla, wife of incumbent Gov. Carlos Padilla, then ordered a thorough investigation of alleged irregularity on the vehicle procurement and acquisition.
In their affidavits, the trio said the procurement and acquisition of the limousine is not in order as it did not undergo public bidding as required by RA 9184.
Rivera, in a consolidated report submitted to Padilla, said the amount of P1.8 million was sourced out from the 20 percent development funds.
This, he said, contravenes DILG memorandum 99-66 dated April 23,1999 which sets the guidelines for the appropriation of the said funds.
“It was further found out that no request for authority to purchase the subject vehicle from the secretary of the DILG was effected and no authority or certification to that effect was issued by the latter in favor of the province and not even to its officials which is a direct violation of Section 3, Article 2 of the DILG Memorandum 99-66,” Rivera said.