The Office of the Ombudsman for the Visayas has dismissed the administrative complaint for misconduct and/or abuse of authority against seven respondents, all of the 2nd Engineering District, Department of Public Works and Highways, in Binalbagan, Negros Occidental, for lack of substantial evidence.
The complaint was filed by Bernabe Gilbor, president of the Negros Occidental Group of Contractors Inc., against Randolfo Melosantos, Juan Alfonso Jorbina Sr., Antonio de Dios, Rebecca Espia, Antonio Parcon, Edgar Canastillo, and Lea Delfinado, a copy of the Ombudsman decision furnished the DAILY STAR yesterday showed.
Except for Delfinado, respondents are members of the Bid and Awards Committee of the engineering district.
Gilbor alleged, among others, that respondents should be held administratively liable because the Invitation to Apply for Eligibility and Bid for the supply of materials for six DPWH projects under the engineering district, were not posted in the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System or PHILGEPS, the official website mandated by Republic Act 9184, or the Government Procurement Act.
This non-posting violated certain provisions of the implementing rules and regulations of RA 9184, and that, there was also no posting of the IAEB in the procuring agency’s website or the website of its service provider, he said.
Gilbor asserted that the projects were irregularly and illegally awarded to a certain Wilson Ong, and further claimed that respondents should be held liable for violation of RA 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
The Ombudsman ruled that respondents’ omission to post the IAEB on the PHILGEPS website cannot be considered a criminal offense under RA 9184. It does not likewise appear that the failure of posting in the PHILGEPS website amounted to a violation of RA 3019, the decision added.
“There is utter dearth of evidence to even begin to speculate that respondents persuaded, induced or influenced each other not to post the IAEB in the PHILGEPS website. Indeed, it seriously strains credulity to consider respondents’ omission to have the product of persuasion, inducement or influence impressed upon respondents,” the decision further said.
Respondents also did not cause undue injury or actual damage, according to the Ombudsman, because nothing in the records could even suggest that respondents acted with manifest partiality, evident bad faith, or gross inexcusable negligence.
Neither can their complained acts be deemed constitutive of undue injury to the complainant, to the government or any private party, nor to have given any party any unwarranted benefit, advantage, or preference, the decision added.
In the absence of positively damning evidence, the presumption of innocence cannot be overthrown, the Ombudsman said.*GCT