Ex-Capiz governor charged for graft over vehicle purchase

OMBUDSMAN Conchita Carpio Morales has approved the finding of probable cause against former Governor Vicente Bermejo of Capiz for one count of violation of Section 3 (e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019).

A statement from the Office of the Ombudsman said Bermejo is accused of approving the purchase of four vehicles in 2007 acquired through public auction.

Documents showed that the provincial government acquired three Pajero wagons and one Isuzu Manlift truck for P1.95 million. Three of the four vehicles were given to the Roxas City government and the Panay municipal government.

Documents from the Commission on Audit noted that the check payment of P1.95 million was made payable to Bermejo “as reimbursement.”

Moreover, records from the Land Transportation Office showed that the certificates of registration for the two units of 1994 Mitsubishi Pajero wagon and one unit 1990 Elf truck were all dated 15 August 2007 and were registered under the name of the Roxas City government.

Bermejo failed to file any counter-affidavit during the investigation.

In its resolution, the Ombudsman stated that “the procurement of the vehicles was not made in compliance with the provisions of the Government Procurement Reform Act (Republic Act No. 9184) particularly the requirement of public bidding.

As verified with the Procurement Service-PhilGEPS, there was no invitation to bid posted at the PhilGEPS website for the procurement of the four vehicles by the province of Capiz for 2007.”

Investigation ascertained that the vehicles were purchased by Bermejo by participating and being the highest bidder in a public auction held by the Phil-Pan Subic Ventures, Inc. “The practice of making purchases in a public auction is not among the modes of procurement allowed under R.A. No. 9184,” said the Ombudsman.

According to Ombudsman Morales, “Bermejo as the approving authority of the purchases being the head of the procuring entity, acted with evident bad faith in purchasing the vehicles without a public bidding but through a public auction.

“Respondent ought to know the basic provisions of R.A. No. 9184 which require procurement to undergo either competitive bidding or any of the alternative modes and to implement the law to the letter. Yet, respondent utterly disregarded these established rules.”

The Ombudsman added that the fact that the check intended for the payment of the vehicles is issued in respondent’s name would further show the irregularity in the purchase. There is nothing in the records to justify why the check was not made directly to the seller.

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