Ombudsman orders dismissal of Mexico, Pampanga mayor for grave misconduct

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 28) — The Office of Ombudsman has ordered the dismissal of the mayor of Mexico, Pampanga and several other officials due to the alleged irregular procurement of construction materials from 2009 to 2010.

A 16-page decision ruled that Mayor Teddy Tumang, municipal accountant Perlita Lagman, municipal engineer and former Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) vice chair Jesus S. Punzalan, and Administrative Officer V and former BAC member Luz C. Bondoc were guilty of grave misconduct for the anomalous purchases amounting to ₱8.66 million from March 2009 to February 2010.

The decision affirmed that Tumang approved and signed disbursement vouchers without the signature of the municipal accountant and performed functions and duties accorded only to BAC members.

It also questioned the capacity of Buyu Trading and Construction as the supplier of the construction materials.

Despite the respondents' denial of the allegations, the Office of the Ombudsman found substantial evidence to hold them administratively liable for grave misconduct.

"(They) are hereby meted the penalty of dismissal from service, together with the accessory penalties of cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits, perpetual disqualification from holding public office and bar from taking civil service examinations," the decision said.

It added that should dismissal not be an option because the person is no longer in service, "the same shall be converted into fines equivalent to their respective salaries for one year...and may be deductible from their retirement benefits, accrued leave credits or any receivable from their office."

A separate 27-page consolidated decision authorized the filing of 41 counts of violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, by way of conspiracy, against Tumang; BAC chair Marlon D. Maniacup; Punzalan; BAC members Lucila M. Agento, Bondoc, and Romeo M. Razon; and private respondent William B. Colis, the owner of Buyu Trading and Construction which supplied the construction materials.

It also ordered the filing of another 23 counts of violation of Section 3(e) of RA 3019 and seven counts of malversation under Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code against Tumang, Maniacup, Agento, Punzalan, Bondoc, Razon, Lagman, and Colis.

“Based on the foregoing, there is no doubt that public respondents acted with manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence, causing undue injury to the government and giving Buyu, through private respondent Colis, unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the procurement of base coarse and other materials," the document said.

However, charges will be filed in a regional trial court as the amount involved in each transaction was less than ₱1 million -- the threshold for filing cases at the Sandiganbayan.

Both decisions were approved on August 23.