Ombud orders suspension of 6 Consolacion officers for overpriced fertilizers
SIX municipal officers of Consolacion town in northern Cebu have been ordered suspended for six months without pay by the Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Elmer Clemente after they were found guilty of misconduct because of the loss of government funds amounting to P219,120.
However, Clemente’s decision which was dated Sept. 29, 2015 has yet to be implemented because the municipal officers had filed for a motion for reconsideration of the decision at the Office of the Visayas Ombudsman.
Municipal treasurer Rosalina Maglasang, municipal agriculturist Evangeline Puao, municipal engineer and Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) member Carlito Maglasang, municipal social welfare and development and BAC member Florisa Bagasbas, municipal assessor and BAC member Marilou Herrera, and BAC member Siegfried Cataluna had been found guilty of misconduct because of the loss of government funds amounting to P219,120.
The Ombudsman’s decision stems from the complaint filed by the Field Investigation Office of the Office of the Ombudsman (Visayas) and Praxedes Cuyos in July 2014 following a fact-finding investigation into the transactions of the municipality of Consolacion.
They found out that in 2005, the municipality purchased 166 bottles of organic fertilizer from MM Castillo General Merchandise at P1,500 per bottle, for a total of P249,000.
However, a Commission on Audit (COA) investigation showed that the fertilizers were overpriced by 733 percent as each bottle should only cost P180 or a total of P29,880 for the 166 bottles.
According to the decision, the municipal officers involved in the transaction did not offer any explanation on the exorbitant price of the products; thus, the COA finding that it was overpriced remains uncontested.
In Ombudsman’s decision, the secretary of the Department of Finance is directed to implement the suspension order against municipal treasurer Maglasang while the municipal mayor of Consolacion is directed to implement the order against the other municipal officers.
The decision also stated that in the event that the penalty of suspension could no longer be enforced due to separation from service, it will be converted into a fine in the amount equivalent to the officers’ salary for six months.
The fine will be payable to the Office of the Ombudsman and may be deductible from the officers’ retirement benefits, accrued leave credits, or any receivables from their respective office.
In a phone interview, Consolacion Mayor Teresa Alegado said that her office has not yet implemented the suspension penalty as the officers involved had filed a motion for reconsideration.
According to Alegado, she had received correspondence from the Office of the Ombudsman inquiring about the action she had taken regarding the decision.
“In the meantime, they [Office of the Ombudsman] are asking me what is my action,” she said. “So I told them nga naa may motion for reconsideration ang kani sila. Nidangop man pud ni sila ug legal counsel. Naa sila’y motion for reconsideration. I will wait if i-consider ba ang ilang motion for reconsideration. Ni-explain sila sa ilang side.”
Alegado explained that she sent her reply to the Ombudsman’s inquiry last June 13 and is now waiting for their feedback.
She pointed out that aside from Florisa Bagasbas who is separated from service, the five other municipal officers are still connected with their respective government offices.
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