MANILA, Philippines - Investigators of the Office of the Ombudsman have recommended the filing of criminal charges against Iloilo Rep. Augusto Syjuco Jr. and several former and incumbent officials of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
The Ombudsman’s Field Investigation Office (FIO) made the recommendation. The charges stemmed from alleged financial irregularities involving Syjuco when he was TESDA director general during the Arroyo administration.
The FIO found Syjuco, other former and incumbent TESDA officials and two suppliers to have violated the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for “irregularly disbursing” and “unlawfully entering into contracts” worth P328.4 million.
Included in its recommendation were Rogelio Peyuan, who succeeded Syjuco when he resigned to run for congressman; Guillerma Aguilar, former chief accountant; Antonio del Rosario, a former director; lawyer Marjorie Docdocil; Maximiano Montemayor Jr., an administrative officer; Juanito Belda, chief administrative officer; Francisco Fang, an administrative assistant; Buen Mondejar, a regional director; Ma. Adorinda de Jesus-Forro, board secretary; Ernesto Beltran, a director; Teodoro Sanico, executive director; and Annabelle Quimbo, an administrative officer.
Administrative charges were also endorsed against Montemayor, Belda, Fang, Mondejar, De Jesus-Forro, Beltran, Sanico, and Quimbo.
The two suppliers the Ombudsman investigators recommended be charged criminally are Vicente Roxas, president and board chairman of V. Roxas Co. Inc. in West Fairview, Quezon City; and Lyndon Ang, president-manager of State Alliance Enterprises in San Nicolas, Manila.
According to the FIO report, the former and incumbent TESDA officials gave “unwarranted benefit, advantage or preference” to Roxas and Ang “by irregularly awarding contracts for the purchase of various training and testing tools and equipment.”
Certain bidding rules were bent to favor the two suppliers, the report said.
Citing a 2009 audit report, investigators said Roxas grossly overpriced the tools, equipment and materials he supplied to TESDA during Syjuco’s and Peyuan’s time.
Auditors found that supplies procured from V. G. Roxas Co. Inc. “were overpriced ranging from four percent to 42,732 percent or P60,964,195.38 representing at least 20.18 percent of the total procurement of P302,109,054.53.”
“Upon inspection, the (audit) team observed that almost all of the delivered training tools and equipment were of low quality and are quite overpriced based on the team’s knowledge of common household tools, supplies and equipment and actual observation of some deliveries, which bore price tags coming from certain stores,” the auditors said in their report.
“For example, an incubator jar was priced at P15,375. However, a price tag showed the price was only P149. A hatching bucket was priced at P43,370. However, the price written on the item showed P900 only,” they said.
TESDA was charged P48,507.47 for a dough cutter. Its actual price, according to the audit report, was only P120. A simulator used in food processing worth P715 cost TESDA P306,250.
The auditors based their conclusion of massive overpricing not only on the price tags carried by certain supplies procured from Roxas but also on the results of price canvasses they conducted and their actual purchases of the same supplies from other sources.
They recommended that the supplier be required to reimburse the government P60,964,195.38, which they said represented the amount of overpricing.
The audit team also discovered that supplies worth millions of pesos were not used because these were not the ones needed by training schools and centers, or there were no enrollees in the programs offered.
It said decisions on what to procure were made by TESDA officials without consulting the officers of schools and centers that would use them. - By Jess Diaz