Fishers fear Ombudsman’s junking of plunder case filed vs. GMA, Yap

By Sarsi Pimentel, Lollipop delos Reyes and Pepsi La Loma

MANILA, Philippines-Fisherfolk leaders who filed a plunder complaint against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Agriculture secretary Arthur Yap and other public and private officials in connection with the P 455 million overpriced ice-making machine on January 6, 2010 fear possible dismissal by the Ombudsman of their case against GMA, Yap and other agriculture officials and private individuals before the anti-graft body.

“We have this strong gut feel, our plunder case and other criminal and administrative complaints filed against the GMA-Yap tandem will be either junked or archived by the Office of the Ombudsman under an Arroyo protégé in the person of Ombudswoman Atty. Merceditas Gutierrez,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap and Pamalakaya Vice-Chair Salvador France.

“The Office of the Ombudsman has been prostituted, cannibalized and rendered inutile by the Arroyo administration over the last 9 years since GMA assumed the presidency in 2001. The Ombudsman has been effectively used by the corrupt government of Mrs. Arroyo to cover up the triple platinum crimes of corruption committed by the Arroyo mafia,” the Pamalakaya leaders said.

They added: “The rule and dictum of the ruling gangland might be applied to our case to save Arroyo and company. If the Ombudsman dismissed our plunder complaint, we have no option but to seek motion for reconsideration or re-file the same case in the next administration.”

Pamalakaya challenged Ombudswoman Gutierrez to come true to form in the name of national interest and the people’s collective quest for truth, justice and accountability. The group reminded Atty. Gutierrez that President Arroyo is a lame duck President, and such situation provides her an opportunity to make up for her past blunders and allow the wheels of justice to take its normal course.

“This is an opportunity for Ombudswoman Gutierrez and she should grab it since opportunity only knocks once. This is the time to redeem herself and prove to the people that she is no puppet of the Arroyos,” the group said.

On January 6, Pamalakaya and Anakpawis leaders led by party list Reps. Rafael Mariano and Joel Maglunsod and Anakpawis secretary general Cherry Clemente charged President Arroyo, Sec. Yap and 13 others with plunder and criminal and administrative suits before the Office of the Ombudsman.

In their 16-page plunder complaint filed before the Office of the Ombudsman, complainants said President Arroyo, Sec. Yap and officials of National Agribusiness Council (NABCOR), members of Awards and Bids Committee and owners and operators of Integrated Refrigeration Service System (IRRS) violated Republic Act 7080 or the Anti-Violation Plunder Law, Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act for grave misconduct.

The complainants said the agriculture department through NABCOR awarded the government contract to a lone bidder—the Integrated Refrigeration System and Services (IRSS) on September 2, 2009, which will provide the ice-making unit at P 4,650,000 per unit, or about P 2.3 million higher compared to prevailing industry price for the ice-making machine.

Pamalakaya and Anakpawis party list asserted that the P 455- million ice making machine scam is chiefly authored by President Arroyo and members of the syndicate operating in and out of Malacanang and in and out of the agriculture department and that Secretary Yap performed his role to the hilt as the lead actor in this newest high crime of corruption orchestrated by the ruling Mafia in the Palace.

As agreed by parties to contract, the government will pay IRSS the sum of P 455,700,000 for 98 units of ice-making machines with liquid freeze capability which will be supplied to selected municipal fish ports nationwide. But the complainants said the government can obtain 98 units of ice-making machines for P 225 million to P 230 million, or half of the quoted and agreed price with IRSS.

According to information gathered by Pamalakaya and Anakpawis party list, NABCOR conducted a preliminary bidding last August 26, and IRSS which won the bidding, was only incorporated on August 25, a day before the preliminary bidding was conducted.

The groups said under Republic Act 9184 (Procuring Law), Section 37.1, the bidder must submit a copy of its single largest completed contract over the past 3 years, and such condition is impossible for IRSS, which was only incorporated on August 25, this year, a day before the preliminary bidding. The contract was finally awarded last Sept.2.

Prior to the filing of the plunder complaint, businessman Allan V. Ragasa, a complainant had filed charges against Sec. Yap and officials of NABCOR and officers of IRSS headed by its chairman Alexander Leung before the Office of the Ombudsman in relation to the questionable awarding of contract to IRSS. The complaint in violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and RA 9184 was filed on Nov.18, 2009. #

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