CA affirms dismissal of Nabcor procurement exec over P99M farm equipment anomaly
The Court of Appeals (CA) has upheld the dismissal of a procurement official of the now-defunct National Agribusiness Corporation (Nabcor) in connection with the purchase of post-harvest facilities worth P99.9 million without the benefit of public bidding in 2007.
In a recent 14-page decision, the CA 15th Division denied the appeal of Jecyrose Butay-Ramos on the Ombudsman’s September 29, 2017 ruling that found her guilty of the administrative offense of grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.
Butay-Ramos, a member of the Nabcor bids and awards committee (BAC), was perpetually disqualified from holding public office and her retirement benefits were forfeited as a result of the Ombudsman decision.
The CA said the Ombudsman decision was “grounded on substantial evidence.” It said the grounds cited by the Nabcor officials in justifying the resort to direct contracting—that Agri-Component Component was the exclusive dealer of the equipment and that “time is of the essence”—were “falsities.”
It cited the Commission on Audit’s (COA) findings that there were at least five other dealers in the local market and that the failure to deliver the facilities by the end of the year belied the claim of urgency.
“By this fact alone, the Ombudsman is justified in dismissing from service those who had a hand on such highly irregular and borderline illegal transaction. It is plain to see that petitioner is not without fault under the foregoing circumstances,” read the decision penned by Associate Justice Elihu Ybañez.
The court did not give credence to Ramos’s claim of good faith and lack of knowledge about the procedures.
“As a member of the BAC, Ramos knows or ought to have known the responsibilities attached to her office. She cannot pretend to be reckless and hope that We consider her obliviousness in her favor. She was part of the Committee that made it possible for corruption in public contracts to take place, and for that, she should be punished,” read the decision.