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Saturday, December 2, 2023

Ombudsman files raps vs ex-SRA chief

The Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the filing of criminal charges against former Sugar Regulatory Administrator Hermenegildo Serafica over the delay in the procurement of farming tools.

In a 21-page resolution, the Ombudsman said Serafica violated the Government Procurement Reform Act following a three-year delay in the acquisition of 25 units of ripper harrower.

The invitation to bid for the procurement of the harrowers was opened from Aug. 23 to Sept. 13, 2017, but the notice to proceed was only issued on Sept. 3, 2020, the Ombudsman said.

“In this particular case, this Office cannot turn a blind eye on the three year period it took to issue a notice to proceed. The delayed award, by itself, could have only amounted to Simple Neglect of Duty and Misconduct but the protracted period to notify the supplier to proceed with the delivery of the harrows is a badge of (1) want of even the slightest care, or a conscious indifference to consequences, and (2) flagrant disregard of an established rule.”

The Ombudsman said Serafica also failed to show that the ripper harrowers were compatible only to the tractors procured in 2020.

“None of the respondents were able to show that the subject procurement was entirely dependent on the 2020 farm tractor procurement. As such, this office finds Serafica to be guilty of grave misconduct and gross neglect of duty for his failure to timely award the contract, issue the notice to proceed and comply with procurement periods,” the Ombudsman said.

“[Serafica] is found guilty of gross neglect of duty and grave misconduct and is hereby meted the penalty of dismissal from the service with accessory penalties of cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits, perpetual disqualification from holding public office and bar from taking civil service examination,” it added.

The penalty of dismissal, however, can no longer be implemented as Serafica resigned from the SRA in 2022 following a sugar importation controversy.

The alternative penalty of a fine equivalent to the individual’s salary for one year will be imposed, payable to the Office of the Ombudsman.

“It should be understood that the accessory penalties attached to the penalty of dismissal will continue to be imposed against them,” the Ombudsman said.

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