By Francis Allan L. Angelo


THE Commission on Audit (COA) has disallowed the transaction on the P1.1-million autoclave sterilizer purchased by the Iloilo provincial government for the Passi City district hospital.  


In a notice of disallowance issued November 11, 2008, state auditor 4 Haydee P. Pasuelo said they found discrepancies in the deal.


“Ocular inspection conducted by the COA-Technical Services Office on August 21, 2008 disclosed that the unit is not in accordance with the duly approved Purchase Order, has no nameplate indicating the name of the manufacturer, origin of the unit, brand name/model and power consumption, and brochure submitted does not indicate the product patent number. It was also found out to be defective; thus the actual test was not performed at the time of the inspection,” the notice said.


Pacific Trade House won the contract for the autoclave sterilizer which conked out when personnel of the Don Valerio Palmares Sr. Memorial District Hospital operated the machine.


The audit body also found “existence of fraud” in the procurement process based on the disbursement voucher and other supporting papers.


“The bidding participated in by Pacific Trade House and CDC Pharmacy showed that there was collusion between the two bidders. The disbursement voucher revealed that the person who received the check for payment in favor of Pacific Trade House was the authorized representative of CDC Pharmacy in the name of Ma. Cherry D. Alaban. It was also noted that the delivery receipt, signed by the Nurse-in-Charge supposedly issued by Pacific Trade House, bears the Taxpayer’s Identification Number (TIN) of a Dione Trading. Further investigation revealed that this Dione Trading (which delivered the autoclave sterilizer) and CDC Pharmacy are owned by only one person,” COA said.


COA said the discrepancies violated procurement and accounting rules.


Who are liable for the controversial transaction?


COA said the persons legally responsible for the deal are general services office chief and bids and awards committee (BAC) chair Ramie Salcedo, budget officer and BAC vice chair Elena Lim, provincial engineer Gracianito Lucero, former provincial treasurer Melba Sullivan, provincial administrator Manuel Mejorada, and executive assistant Levy Buenavista.       


Also held liable were Governor Niel Tupas Sr. for approving the transaction and Mercedes Sibug as supplier.


In his privilege speech delivered during the provincial board’s regular session Tuesday, Iloilo Vice Governor Rolex Suplico said the persons tagged by COA to the questioned deal are “the ‘usual suspects’ in zarzuelas with these particular plots involving scams and scandals.”


“These ‘usual suspects’ may have already attained the status of ‘stars’ or even ‘superstars’ in their own right,” Suplico added.


Suplico urged the Sangguniang Panlalawigan “to condemn the sterilizer scam in the strongest possible terms; to refer the matter to the appropriate committee for investigation; and to do any act necessary to stop graft and corruption in the Iloilo provincial government.”