Ombudsman orders filing of criminal raps vs. ex-SRA chief Serafica over equipment procurement delay

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 3) — The Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the filing of criminal charges against former Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) chief Hermenegildo Serafica over the delay in the procurement of farming tools.

In a 21-page joint resolution, the Ombudsman said Serafica violated the Republic Act 9184 or the "Government Procurement Reform Act."

According to the Ombudsman, the invitation to bid for the procurement of harrowers was opened from Aug. 23 to Sept. 13, 2017. But the notice to proceed was only issued on Sept. 3, 2020.

Section 65 (a) (2) of RA 9184 penalizes any public official who delays without justifiable cause the awarding of contracts beyond the prescribed periods of bids or other documents.

RA 9184's implementing rules and regulations also state that the issuance of notice to proceed should have been done 130 to 136 days after the invitation to bid was posted, the Ombudsman stressed.

The Ombudsman pointed out that the SRA should have procured the farm tractors along with the harrowers in 2017.

"The procurement of the tractors appears to have been also neglectfully delayed denying the SRA the use thereof from 2017 to 2020, hence it cannot be used as justification for delaying the implementation and delivery of the harrowers," the resolution read.

"Stated differently, none of the respondents were able to show that the subject procurement was entirely dependent on the 2020 farm tractor procurement," it added.

Serafica was also found guilty of gross neglect of duty and grave misconduct "for his failure to timely award the contract, issue the notice to proceed, and comply with the procurement periods both under RA 9184 and its IRR."

Serafica resigned last year from his post following the controversial order to import 300,000 metric tons of sugar to avert a supposedly looming shortage.

If dismissal from public office cannot be implemented, the Ombudsman said Serafica should be fined equivalent to his individual salary for one year.

However, the Ombudsman junked the graft and corruption case against Serafica "considering that the allegations do not fall within the crimes defined" under RA 3019 or the "Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act."

CNN Philippines has sought Serafica's comment.