MANILA - A Supreme Court officer confirmed on Wednesday that an information technology consultant at the High Tribunal was receiving around P250,000 as monthly pay and that her contract did not go through public bidding.
Ma. Carina Cunanan, the court's procurement head and assistant chief of the administrative services, told the House Committee on Justice at the resumption of the hearing on the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno that Helen Macasaet, an information and communications technology consultant, was hired through an “alternative bidding” process.
Macasaet was hired as consultant in 2013 to work on the judiciary’s Enterprise Information Systems Plan (EISP) and other related computerization and ICT projects.
Cunanan said the basis for the “alternative bidding” was Section 53.7 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Government Procurement Reform Act on negotiated procurement, which allows a government agency to directly negotiate a contract with a technically, legally and financially capable supplier, contractor or consultant in certain cases, such as in the case of highly technical consultants.
Under the said section, highly technical consultants include those hired to do work that is either highly technical or proprietary, or primarily confidential or policy determining, where trust and confidence are the primary consideration.
Pressed by South Cotabato Rep. Ferdinand Hernandez whose idea it was to resort to a negotiated bidding, Cunanan said it was not the procurement committee’s idea. She later confirmed it was the Office of the Chief Justice.
Cunanan, however, insisted that Macasaet’s hiring went through the process and the bids and awards committee.
Asked for a ballpark figure of Macasaet’s monthly salary, Cunanan said it was around P250,000.
Majority Leader Rodoldo Fariñas pointed out that Macasaet was receiving a monthly salary more than what the President received, and beyond what the Chief Justice would have received this year.
Sereno had earlier justified Macasaet’s fees as relatively lower compared to the cost of other ICT-related consultancies previously proposed by the Committee on Computerization and Library.
Lawyer Lorenzo Gadon in his impeachment complaint accused Sereno of betraying public trust when she hired an IT consultant with an excessive compensation without public bidding, among other allegations.