Saturday, September 02, 2006

Pasay mayor, 11 execs suspended

By Mike Frialde
The Philippine Star

For allegedly entering into anomalous garbage collection and disposal contracts in 2004 and 2005 worth P464.6 million, Pasay City Mayor Wenceslao "Peewee" Trinidad, Pasay City Vice Mayor Antonio Calixto and 10 others were ordered placed under preventive suspension for six months by the Office of the Ombudsman yesterday.

Included in the suspension list are Pasay City Councilors Richard Advincula, Lexter Ibay, Jose Antonio Roxas, Ma. Antonia Cuneta, Noel Bayona, Arnel Regino Arceo, Editha Vergel de Dios, Marie Irish Pineda, Generoso Cuneta and Greg Paolo Alcera.

According to the Office of the Ombudsman, the Sangguniang Panglungsod of Pasay on Feb. 6, 2004, passed Resolution 1945 "declaring as void the contracts for services which were bidded out and awarded before the approval of the 2004 budget and in the absence of a certification from the City Treasurer as to the availability of funds."

The Office of the Ombudsman said that under the same resolution, Trinidad was authorized to extend the contracts for services for a period not to exceed 90 days so as not to hamper the services covered by said contracts.

However, on Feb. 13, 2004, the mayor entered into separate contracts with LEG Hauling Services Corp., Excellent Transport Services Inc., Solid Waste Alternative Tech., RM Maintenance Services and Greenline Envirotech Phils. for the six-month garbage collection and disposal services, from Feb. 10 2004 to Aug. 31, 2004.

On Aug. 4, 2004, Trinidad entered into other contracts with the same companies by virtue of Resolution 1979, which was approved by the Sangguniang Panglungsod of Pasay on July 28, 2004. The said resolution gave Trinidad authority to extend the said contracts for four months, from Sept. 1 to Dec. 31, 2004.

The Office of the Ombudsman said Trinidad again entered into another contract with the said companies on Dec. 28, 2004, after the Sangguniang Panglungsod passed Resolution 2013, giving the mayor authority to extend the contracts for garbage collection for another six months, from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2005.

In a 12-page order, Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez said that by passing the questioned resolutions, the required public bidding was effectively dispensed with and allowed Trinidad to "successfully enter into the several contracts for the city’s garbage collections and disposal."

She added that the circumstances during the time of the approval of the said resolutions did not justify an exemption from the public bidding requirement.

The Ombudsman added that the Sangguniang Panglungsod should have strictly observed existing laws, particularly in public bidding, considering the huge amount it had appropriated for garbage collection for the years 2004 and 2005 in the total amount of P464,640,000 or P232,320,000 per year.

"There is cogent reason to place the said respondents under preventive suspension," said Gutierrez as she directed Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno to immediately implement the preventive suspension order as the case against the respondents is being investigated.

Meanwhile, Trinidad said yesterday the suspension order against him and other local officials in Pasay City was politically motivated.

Trinidad claimed that Pasay Rep. Connie Dy has long threatened him that she would soon come out with issues against him and other officials in the city.

"I think she could be behind this. I can think of no other person," he pointed out.

Trinidad explained that the Commission on Audit came out with a ruling on their garbage collection service, which was favorable to the city government.

"There is nothing illegal in the garbage collection contract. This has been done in the city for a long time now," he added. – With Rhodina Villanueva

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