By Bohol Sunday Post
CORTES, Bohol - The townâ€™s two top elective officials are in each others throats as they are locked in a welter of charges and countercharges. While Mayor Apolinaria â€œJasmineâ€ Balistoy is serving her six-month suspension as a result of an anti-graft case that reached all the way to the Sandiganbayan filed by V-Mayor Danilo Montero, the embattled chief executive retaliated with her own criminal complaint against the vice mayor. Montero is now acting Cortes mayor following Balistoyâ€™s suspension which was served last week. A motion for consideration was filed by the suspended mayor and a separate story is found elsewhere in this issue.
The case of the vice mayor before the Office of the Ombudsman Visayas involved the purchase of a firetruck allegedly made during the five-month period when he was the acting mayor of municipality. Complainant Balistoy alleged that Montero and four other municipal officials conspired in deviating government rules and regulations to award the purchase to their own choice supplier.
Mayor Balistoy in her two-page complaint filed last Nov. 5, 2012 cited numerous violation of the Government Reformed Procurement Act, R.A. 9184, based on the revised implementing rules and regulations and possible graft and corrupt acts. The complaint likewise prayed that an immediate investigation be conducted and respondents be preventively suspended. The questioned transaction involved the amount of P1,060,000 for the purchase of a firetruck that allegedly was overpriced. Respondents, aside from acting mayor Montero, included accountant Jorna Tabigue, budget officer Noel Pondoc, treasurer Paciente Acero, and bookkeeper Aileen Saranza. Accountant Tabigue was designated by Montero to sit as BAC member although R.A. 9184 prohibits the same.
The purchase order was allegedly awarded to a losing bidder. Attached to the complaint was the letter from a bidder from Makati City Palmer-Asia Inc. demanding a Notice of Award after the firm submitted the lowest bid of P1,099,999 only as against another bidder who submitted a higher bid of P1,120,000.
Winning bidder Palmer Asia Inc. won the bidding held on August 24, 2012 and was found qualified through a post qualification process made by an inspectorate team on September 6-7, 2012. Under the revised IRR of the government procurement law (R.A. 9184), Palmer Asia should have been issued a Notice of Award after seven (7) days after passing the post qualification evaluation. Acting mayor Montero allegedly bypassed and disregarded the Bids and Awards Committee Resolution No. 1, S. 2012 declaring Palmer Asia, as the firm with the lowest calculated and responsive bid for the firetruck purchase. Instead, Montero allegedly made a personal canvass and inspection and eventually paid on Sept. 17, 2012 the amount of P1.060M to the losing bidder Firewolf Motors, also based in Makati City. It was further alleged that the procurement was not duly covered by approved and appropriate funding as required by law. Monteroâ€™s comment was sought the whole afternoon yesterday but yielded negative results.