CA affirms lifetime ban from public office versus Napolcom bids exec over defective police boats

The Court of Appeals (CA) has affirmed the perpetual disqualification of a National Police Commission (Napolcom) procurement official from public office in connection with the anomalous purchase of P131.55-million worth of defective police rubber boats in 2009.

In a recent 19-page decision, the CA 1st Division denied the appeal of bids and awards committee (BAC) member Herold Ubalde on the Ombudsman’s January 9, 2013 ruling finding him guilty of the administrative offenses of grave misconduct and gross neglect of duty.

Since he could no longer be dismissed, the court modified his penalty to a fine equivalent to one year’s salary.

The case concerned the Napolcom’s move to skip the public bidding requirement for the rubber boats and resort to negotiated procurement on the ground of emergency caused by typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng in 2009.

The court said Ubalde “miserably failed to present sufficient justification in resorting to negotiated procurement and to abide by the rules provided therefor.”

It noted that by time the BAC issued its resolution dated October 19, 2009—or three weeks after Ondoy and two weeks after Pepeng—the emergency had already ceased.

Meanwhile, the contract was awarded to suppliers Enviroaire, ACMI Office Systems, and Geneve S.A. Phils., Inc., only on December 18, 2009, or three months after the onslaught of the typhoons.

“Indeed, the protracted process of negotiation belies petitioner’s claim of urgency, necessity and immediacy,” read the decision penned by Associate Justice Remedios Salazar-Fernando.

The court added that the splitting of the contract among three suppliers was strictly prohibited. It also lacked basis because the suppliers were incapable of delivering the items on time and the boats were not technically and financially compatible.

It said the BAC “failed to secure an agreement that would be most beneficial to the government, but, instead, approved a procurement grossly inimical to public interest.”

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