Basilan vice mayor suspended

BASILAN Vice Mayor Roderick Furigay has been suspended for six months without pay after the Office of the Ombudsman found him guilty of grave misconduct for allowing the award of two government contracts to businesses owned by his relatives.

In a statement released Thursday, December 14, the Ombudsman said five others were ordered suspended for one month.

Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) chairman Florence Herrera, acting city accountant Nilo Sotto, and BAC members Ignacio Enriquez, Olivia Ablao, and Raquel Hibionada were found guilty of simple misconduct.

Anti-graft prosecutors said Furigay, a former mayor of Basilan, is closely related to the owners and incorporators of HHH Developer and Real Estate, Inc. (HDRI) and Furigay College, Inc., (FCI).

These two entities received in 2012 payment for separate contracts, despite their failure to submit affidavits of disclosure of relationship.

HDRI was paid P548,256 for the supply of construction materials in connection with the Kulay-Bato Boat Landing Project while FCI received P175,000 for its five-day scuba diving course as part of its Geographical Protection and Awareness Program.

The Commission on Audit disallowed the payments in June 2012 and ordered their immediate refund. In October 2012, HDRI and FCI refunded the amount of P723,256 to the local government.

In its Decision, the Ombudsman stated that “respondents Furigay as the approving officer of the contracts and the ensuing disbursements, Sotto as the certifier of the regularity as well as the completeness of the supporting documents, and Herrera, Enriquez, Ablao and Hibionada as the BAC members, who recommended the award, are liable for misconduct."

The Ombudsman further said, “the impression that suppliers who have a relationship with the procuring entity are given preference, and the appearance of unlawfulness or impropriety that arises when purchase transactions are entered with them, should have cautioned respondents to be extra careful with their actions.”

“Respondent Furigay’s act of permitting the business transaction of his close relatives lacked the necessary justifications as to render them aboveboard, not to mention that the supporting procurement documents are highly questionable, gives away a contrary disposition on his part, and his tendency to succumb to corruption,” the Ombudsman added. (SunStar Philippines)