MANILA - The Office of the Ombudsman has found probable cause to indict Aurora Governor Gerardo Noveras, several other provincial officials and a contractor for graft in connection with two road repair projects done without public bidding.
Provincial Bids and Awards Committee officials Simeon De Castro, Paz Torregosa, Ricardo Bautista, Benedito Rojo, Isaias Noveras Jr., and Norma Clemente, and private contractor Manding Claro Ramos were also charged.
In an April 3, 2018 resolution signed by Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer Kristine Suzanne Fineza and approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, the Ombudsman said the officials acted with manifest partiality by rigging the bidding for the projects to give unwarranted benefits to Ramos' RMCR Construction.
The Ombudsman said notices to proceed for the repair of the Dimalang bridge approach and road section of the Casiguran-Dilasag provincial road were issued on August 15, 2014, but the projects were reported as 100 percent complete on August 18, 2014 or just three days later.
“This office can only conclude that the subject projects were implemented by RMCR Construction even before the procurement process was finished,” the Ombudsman said.
It was noted that the bridge approach project was estimated to be finished in 60 days while the road section was expected to be completed in 30 days.
“RMCR Construction, as represented by Ramos, was guaranteed that it would surely bag the contract for the projects as no contractor in his right mind would carry out any project even before a contract is executed in its favor at the risk of not getting paid,” the Ombudsman said.
The charges against Provincial Engineer Rodante Tolentino, as well as Alfredo Penzon, Liberato Urbano and Julian Narvas were dismissed.
According to the Ombudsman, Tolentino was not part of the BAC, Penzon and Narvas were not signatories to the BAC resolutions, and nothing on record would indicate that Urbano participated in the supposed rigged bidding.
Last February, the Ombudsman ordered Noveras suspended for 9 months in connection with the use of his own dump trucks in a barangay site development project in Dinalungan town.