MANILA- The Ombudsman has dismissed from public office Southern Leyte Gov. Damian Mercado for grave misconduct.
Mercado was found guilty of the charge for mishandling the procurement of second-hand vehicles during his term as Maasin City Mayor in 2007, the Ombudsman said in a statement.
He is also set to face trial before the Sandiganbayan for alleged violations of the anti-graft law, the Ombudsman said.
Apart from dismissal, Mercado would also forfeit his retirement benefits, is perpetually barred from holding public office and may never take the civil service examination.
Per the Ombudsman's investigation, Mercado, along with other officials, had failed to meet government requirements on the procurement of three reconditioned vehicles in 2007 worth P2.3 million.
The municipal government had, at the time, bought second-hand vehicles- a Mitsubishi Pajero, Isuzu Wizard and Toyota Grandia- from Kojac Auto Repair shop.
But the Ombudsman found out that Mercado actually owned the Grandia, which was later sold to Baltazar Avila, a supplier from the auto repair shop.
It also found that the second-hand vehicles were overpriced and too old.
"In-depth investigation found, however, that Mercado was the original owner of the Grandia, which was sold to Avila in November 2006 for P390,000.00 and that the Wizard was acquired by Avila in 2006 for only P275,000.00. Ombudsman investigators also found that “by the time the procurements were made, the Mitsubishi Pajero unit was already 13 years old while the Toyota Grandia was 11 years old and the Isuzu Wizard was 12 years old," the Ombudsman said.
In its Joint Resolution, the Ombudsman said Mercado and his co-respondents- Avila, Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) Chair Crispin Arong, Jr., BAC Vice-Chair Feorillo Demeterio, Jr., and BAC members Anecito Narit, Benjase Lumen and Consuelo Ladrera-
“exhibited manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence in awarding the procurement contracts to Kojac without regard to pertinent law and rules.”
Department of Budget and Management National Budget Circular No. 446-A provides that the remaining useful life of the vehicle to be purchased must not be lower than five years in the case of high official function cars, passenger vans and other service vehicles, and three years for utility vehicles.
“Whether the vehicles are in good condition, still functioning properly, or has been refurbished is also not considered material in determining their remaining useful life,” the Ombudsman said.