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Sandigan asked to uphold evidence vs ex-Surigao del Norte execs

The government has asked the Sandiganbayan to uphold the evidence against the former provincial officers of Surigao del Norte, including its former governor Francisco Matugas, concerning the alleged anomalous purchases of medical supplies in 1996 to 1998.

Assistant Special Prosecutor III Julieta Zinnia A. Niduaza filed her motion in response to Demurrers to Evidence filed by the respondents, namely Matugas, former provincial administrator Carlos Egay, provincial treasurer Anotonio Bonono, provincial accountant Daisy Andit, provincial budget officer Virginia Yuipco, provincial general services officer Zenon Eupeña, and assistant provincial administrator Sally Plaza.

Niduaza said there is sufficient evidence to prove that the accused persons had rigged the bidding for the medical supplies during the term of Matugas, who is now congressman of the said province.

Also named respondents were private defendants Joemel Tinio-Yu, alleged niece of Matugas; and private contractors Ernesto Bravo of Saint Martin Pharmaceutical Laboratory Inc., Francisco Reyez of Beruth Medical Enterprises Inc., Jesse Peñaranda of Colt Marketing, and Vivian Ortiz of Medicine Trading Inc.

The provincial government purchased DS water bottles, butterfly needles and amoxicillin capsules from the said suppliers for its ‘Panambay sa Barangay’ medical outreach program.

In their Demurrers to Evidence, Matugas, Egay, Tinio-Yu, Andit, Yuipco, Eupeña and Plaza had claimed that there was no categorical finding of rigged bidding or of overpricing in the procurement.

Niduaza however said that based on the documents they obtained from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), none of the suppliers were qualified to participate in the bidding due to inadequate capitalization, lack of accreditation from concerned government agencies, and failure to register with SEC.

“The winning bidders were not qualified to undertake the project. The evidence on record shows that Joemel S. Tinio-Yu, a niece of then Gov. Matugas represented all the five winning bidders. It was also accused Tinio-Yu who personally received and accepted the bids of the five bidders,” Niduaza said.

“Noteworthy also is the fact that all the checks payable to the five suppliers were all deposited to the account of Merne T. Peñaranda, a niece also of accused Matugas,” she added

According to SEC documents, Medicine Trading Inc. only had P100,000 in paid-up capital but was awarded six supply contracts totaling P1.49 million between October 1996 and February 1998. Beruth Medical, on the other hand, operated under a P125,000 capitalization but was granted eight supply deals worth P271,599.15. It was also found to have no registration from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

The prosecution said Colt Marketing, despite having no license to operate from the Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD) and is unregistered with SEC, cornered a P985,000 contract. According to the DTI-Bureau of Trade Regulation and Consumer Protection, the firm was only registered on August 9, 2001.

Laboratory International Inc. was not registered with DTI, SEC or BFAD, but still landed five contracts with a total value of P1.31 million, the prosecution said.

Based on a review by a team of government auditors, among the items purchased were 5000cc DS water at P109 per bottle which were found to be sold by other suppliers at only P26 per bottle; butterfly needles priced at P68 per unit obtainable from others at P9.95 each; and amoxicillin antibiotics paid for at P73.83 per capsule sold by other firms at P10 each. (GMANews.TV)

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