By LLANESCA T. PANTI, GMA Integrated News
The Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the filing of charges against former Sugar Regulatory Administrator (SRA) Hermenegildo Serafica over alleged violation in the Government Procurement Reform Act.
The case stemmed from the almost two-year gap between the awarding of the contract on March 19, 2018 for the procurement of farming equipment in 2017 and the issuance of the notice to proceed with the procurement on September 3, 2020.
The equipment in question were 25 units of ripper harrower.
“In this particular case, this Office cannot turn a blind eye on the three year period it took to issue a notice to proceed,” the Ombudsman said in a 21-page resolution.
“The delayed award, by itself, could have only amounted to Simple Neglect of Duty and Misconduct but the protracted period to notify the supplier to proceed with the delivery of the harrows is a badge of (1) want of even the slightest care, or a conscious indifference to consequences, and (2) flagrant disregard of an established rule,” it added.
“As such, there is probable cause to indict Serafica under RA 9184 (Procurement law), specifically under Section 65 (a) (2) thereof for delaying the award and implementation of the contract beyond the prescribed periods of action.”
The Ombudsman also said Serafica, who resigned from the SRA in 2022 following a sugar importation controversy, failed to show that such ripper harrowers were particular and compatible only to the tractors procured in 2020.
“Stated differently, none of the respondents were able to show that the subject procurement was entirely dependent on the 2020 farm tractor procurement. As such, this office finds Serafica to be guilty of grave misconduct and gross neglect of duty for his failure to timely award the contract, issue the notice to proceed and comply with procurement periods both under RA 9184 and its IRR (Implementing Rules and Regulations),” the Ombudsman pointed out.
“Wherefore, there being probable cause, let an Information be filed against Serafica for Violation of Section 65 (a) (2) of Republic Act 9184. Moreover, he is found guilty of gross neglect of duty and grave misconduct and is hereby meted the penalty of dismissal from the service with accessory penalties of cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits, perpetual disqualification from holding public office and bar from taking civil service examination,” it added.
Since the penalty of dismissal can no longer be implemented following Serafica’s resignation, the alternative penalty of fine equivalent to their individual salary for one year will be imposed, payable to the Office of the Ombudsman, and may be deducted from their accrued leave credits or any receivable from their office.
“It should be understood that the accessory penalties attached to the penalty of dismissal will continue to be imposed against them,” the Ombudsman said.
GMA News Online has reached out to Serafica via text message for his comment, but he has yet to respond as of posting time. —KBK, GMA Integrated News