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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Former PRC officials face graft charges

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THE Ombudsman ordered on Monday the filing of graft raps against former officials of the Professional Regulation Commission over a rigged lease deal during the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III.

Those indicted were former chairperson Teresita Manzala, commissioner Alfredo Po, regional director Teofilo Gaius Sison Jr., supervising professional regulations officer Tricia Camara and chief professional regulations officer Sarah Edna Tabije.

The Ombudsman found the respondents approved the 15-month lease contract and paid over P6.6 million at a monthly rate of P431,309.80 in rental fees, advance rentals and deposits from December 2012 to December 2013 without compliance with the requirements of the Government Procurement Reform Act.

According to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, Sison and Tabije were also held administratively liable for grave misconduct and were ordered dismissed from the service.

The duo were also meted the accessory penalties of perpetual disqualification from holding public office, cancellation of eligibility and forfeiture of retirement benefits.

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“Respondents’ actions indicate their obvious preference for CTLL Building and circumvented the legally mandated procurement process to ensure its selection as PRC Baguio’s relocation site,” the Ombudsman’s resolution read.

The case stemmed from the 2012 lease contract for the agency’s regional office located at CTLL Building, Kisad Road in Baguio City.

As proof of the rigged bidding, investigators found that the bids and awards committee “had no copies of any request for expression of interests, request for quotation, performance of warranties and securities, resolution recommending award, notice of award.”

The National Bureau of Investigation nabbed Po in an entrapment operation in 2012 after he solicited and accepted from lawyer Ernesto de los Santos P42,000 as monthly commission and P394,000 broker’s commission.

Po supposedly solicited the fees as consideration for his intervention in the approval of the lease contract in favor of De los Santos, owner-lessor of the building that would house the PRC’s satellite office. 

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