Bohol governor charged for graft before Ombudsman

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Bohol Governor Arthur Yap and his provincial administrator are now facing a complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman for allegedly entering into anomalous transactions that wasted public funds amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) crisis.

Yap and Provincial Administrator Kathyrin Fe Pioquinto were charged on March 17 before the anti-graft body in Quezon City with violation of Section 3 of Republic Act 3019 or Anti-Graft and Corrupt Act, for serious dishonesty and grave misconduct.

The complaint stemmed from the overpriced and questionable purchases from supplies with dubious financial, legal, or technical credentials and track record.

The complainant, Dan Neri Lim, a lawyer and former mayor of Tagbilaran City, sought the Ombudsman’s office to investigate Yap, Pioquinto, and other officials of the province for the alleged irregularities.

Lim said the provincial government entered into a service contract for the Philippine Travel Exchange (PHITEX) 2020, a virtual conference to promote tourism.

He alleged that the provincial government contracted PTM Disco Record Center for the rental of light and sound system for the PHITEX 2020 event held in Panglao, a resort island town in Bohol.

The event’s closing ceremony was held on Sept. 25, 2020, but the notice of award for the procurement was issued only on Dec. 18, 2020, which was three months after the said event had ended.

Lim added that Yap issued a notice of award to Dextel Trading for the purchase of mobile X-ray machines for a total of P22.788 million or P3.798 million per unit.

“However, upon checking with various suppliers, the cost of the unit of the same specification is only P950,000. In this case, there is overpricing of each unit in the amount of P2.848 million or a total amount of P17 million,” the complaint read.

Lim’s complaint also alleged that on March 18, 2020, the provincial government of Bohol purchased “by way of negotiated sale” eight motorcycles from TWIS Trading in the amount of P718,000.

“It would appear that the purchase price of the motorcycle costs about P89,750. Upon verification, a Honda XRM 125 only costs about P55,000 for a brand new and P18,000 for second hand (units),” Lim’s complaint-affidavit read.

Lim noted an overprice of P34,750 per unit or a total of P278,000 for the entire transaction.

TWIS, which cornered multiple contracts worth more than P100 million, is said to be a single proprietorship holding office in a residential address with no website and no support hotline numbers.

The complaint added that motorcycles bought from TWIS, a company based in Cabuyao, Laguna despite the existence of suppliers in Bohol, which Lim said was “very illogical” as the said transactions entailed additional freight costs on top of the purchase price.

The former mayor said the address given by TWIS was a residential place, its phone is unattended, no office and no help desk support and showroom of its motorcycle business.

The provincial government of Bohol, he said, also awarded the second project to TWIS through the negotiated sale of a communication and security system worth P68.714 million but such cost is “more than the regular and market prices”.

“Again, by way of negotiated sale, TWIS Trading was awarded the procurement of a Basic Life Support Ambulance in the amount of P20.993 million, one that should be scrutinized because a BASIC life support ambulance would not cost that price,” he said.

Lim urged the anti-graft body to “hold the respondents criminally and administratively (liable) if found guilty.”

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