Ombudsman bars ex-DA chief from gov't service

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 02 2017 05:21 PM

MANILA - The Office of the Ombudsman has barred ex-Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala from government service after it found the former public official guilty of grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best Interest of the service. 

In a statement released Monday, the Ombudsman said its decision stemmed from two cases, with the first one involving Alcala's misuse of funds of the Department of Agriculture amounting to P13.5 million.

The Ombudsman said Alcala transferred P13.5 million to Isa Akong Magsasaka Foundation Inc. for the construction of the center on a lot privately owned by its president, Bautista Ella. 

The foundation was accredited by the DA when it sought to be a part of the implementation of the project that aimed to help farmers in Quezon province. 

Acala, the Ombudsman, said, signed a memorandum agreement with Ella to provide P15 million as financial support for the establishment of the center in question.

The Ombudsman said the transfer of funds runs "contrary to the basic principle that public funds shall be used solely for a public purpose."

It was also discovered that a certain Laureano Arnulfo Mañalac, who issued two official receipts from the foundation acknowledging the receipt of the funds, was Alcala's executive assistant who "concealed his interest in the Foundation."

Mañalac, the Ombudsman said, is one of the foundation's incorporators. The president of Isa Akong Magsasaka Foundation Inc. is also his father-in-law. Despite knowing this, Alcala did not do anything, the Ombudsman added.

Meanwhile, in the second case, the Ombudsman found Alcala liable for illegally allowing the DA to resort to the alternative method of Repeat Order despite the agency's failure to comply with the requirements under the Government Procurement Reform Act.

The project involves a 2010 contract for the delivery of 1,500 sets of pump and engine for the Shallow Tube Well/Pump Irrigation System Open Source project awarded to Agricom by the DA, which was then headed by Bernie Fondevilla.

"Alcala's defense that he had no knowledge of the nature of the previous procurement; that he relied on the recommendation of the BAC and that he acted on the documents in the regular performance of his duties cannot be countenanced," the Ombudsman said.

"Reliance in good faith on the recommendation of subordinates does not justify non-compliance with the law. As head of agency, much is expected of Alcala," it added.