Sunday, November 15, 2009

While many Romblomanons were hungry sleeping, Beltran and his ilk were shopping—and reimbursing

Romblon is a land of contrasts: of the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’; of the powerful and powerless. It is a province of plenty, but where the majority of the people are clueless as to why they are destitute; while their leaders are heartless in their day-and-night spending orgy.

If you have been following the Romblon Sun, I have detailed in four weekly installments during the past month why this is so.

According to official data, of Romblon’s total 53,720 households (pop. 279,774, Aug. 1, 2007), 41.9 percent, or 22,562 families are poor, living below the poverty threshold.

The National Statistical Coordination Board, or NCSB, says that as of 2007, this threshold was pegged at P6,195.00 per month, or P204.00 per day, meaning each family with an average number of five members should have this amount in combined income to be able to survive.

I did not conjure up these numbers. They are the government’s, to which Rep. Budoy Madrona, Gov. Jojo Beltran, and their ilk belong and are functionaries of. I think now they are ignorant of these numbers. Or they knew, but simply didn’t care.

For here comes the audit report of the COA saying that in 2008, the provincial government, led by the inept Beltran, engaged in shopping and reimbursing the money they used to shop with.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen! Beltran and his ilk ‘shopped’ and ‘reimbursed’ in 2008 while the rest of us were figuring out how to earn the P204.00 daily to be able to buy food, send our children to school, pay our electric and water bills, and purchase medicines for our various ailments.

You don’t believe it? Fine, but here’s a quote from the 2008 COA Annual Audit Report’s Findings and Recommendations:

“. . . 14. Procurement of goods made by the Provincial Government during the year were not again covered by an Annual Procurement Plan (APP) as required under Section 7 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act (RA) 9184, the Government Procurement Reform Act, thus procured items may not be the actual needs of the agency and results (sic) in uneconomical operations.”

Because of this finding, the COA “reiterated (sic) strongly . . . our previous year’s recommendation that the Local Chief Executive abides (sic) with the provisions of Section 7 of the IRR of RA 9184 and Section 373 of RA 7160 on the preparation of the APP as a basis in the budget preparation. He must also require all heads of offices to submit procurement plans f their supply requirements for the ensuing year to be incorporated in the APP prepared by the General Services Office (GSO).”

“15. Various procurement of goods totalling P12,374,782.51 and P4,266,551.38 were made thru shopping and thru reimbursement (emphasis mine), respectively, instead of thru competitive bidding, in violation of Rule IV, Section 10 of the IRR of the Government Procurement reform Act or Republic Act 9184 . . .”

This practice, according to the COA may not have been most advantageous to the Provincial Government in terms of pricing. It also “cast doubts on the regularity and economy of such procurements”, it added.

Well, who can disagree? The government has set rules for the purchase of even the most basic items that it needs, such as thumb tacks or paper clips. All that the COA said was that these set rules were ignored by the capitol.

For its recommendation, the COA asked the Bids and Awards Committee to “explain and justify the reason/s for its recommendation to award the procurement of goods to listed suppliers through shopping instead of through public bidding.” It also castigated Beltran by saying that as local chief executive, he should have resorted to public bidding as the primary mode of procurement.

Of course, Beltran et al can’t do that. Mawawagit ka inra raket.

To buttress its findings, the COA listed as Annexes ‘O’ and ‘P’ a list of procurement of goods made through shopping and a schedule of procurement made through reimbursement, respectively.

The annexes are interesting for they supply the details.

In Annex ‘O’, the items purchased ranged from typewriters to office and medical supplies to unspecified office equipment and construction materials. The costs varied, but there were only 19 suppliers.

The biggest item was an ‘office equipment’ worth P299,800.00, purchased—‘shopped’ if you will—from Etcetera.Com School and Office Supply on March 3, 2008 with check no. 254607. The smallest item was a typewriter, purchased on April 17, 2008 for P16,850 apiece, or a total of P50,550.00 for three pieces. Two more ‘carina’ typewriters, purchased a month later, were dearer. They cost P24,530.00 each, or a total of P49,060.00

The capitol also purchased two motorcycles from Romblon Hardware & General Merchandise, both on June 20, 2008. One of the motorcycles cost P249,600.00 while the other one cost P166,400.00. A chainsaw, purchased on January 17, 2008, cost the provincial coffers P157,800; a rolling track bin fetched P107,000.00; an Arrowroot flour machine, P169,800.00.

The capitol also bought through shopping five airconditioners at a whopping P42,000 apiece. It must be very cold now in the kapitolyo because of the very expensive airconditioners.

Work at the capitol really must be hard, too, and our officials and employees really must be working harder, for the records tell us that in 2008, the capitol paid two suppliers, GSP Canteen & Catering Services and Sato Dizen, a total of P409,900 in catering services. Is this only for food, or it included the bill for toothpick? Just asking.

As to procurement through reimbursement, Gov. Beltran accounted for the bulk in 2008. Of the total of P4,266,551.38, he reimbursed P2,391,315.60.

He has not only assumed the role of governor, but of purchasing officer as well, himself taking time out from the capitol to buy spare parts worth P610,018.59; office supplies worth P569,086.75; medical equipment worth P316,250.00; and tarpaulin for P339,000.00.

Not content, he whined and dined we-don’t-know-who, but we are sure they are not your ordinary Romblomanons. For food, he reimbursed PP376,960.26. He even bought livestock and had the amount of P180,000.00 reimbursed. Whew!

Other Beltran underlings who reimbursed purchases in 2008 are (dyaran . . . drum roll please) Oscar Vicente Ylagan, Anthony Rugas, Raylin C. Famatiga, Vicente Ferdinand Peñaflor, Emilio Beltran Jr., Jay M. Garcia, Antonio Mindoro, Estanislao Famatiga, Helen Arriola, Percival Ferrer, Estelina Oñas, Gerry Tansiongco, Evelyn Formilleza, Teodicto Martinet, Sarah Jane Bantang, and Leila Arboleda.

I guess that’s all, folks, for today. This lesson on “Government Purchasing: How to do it by Shopping and Reimbursement” will have a sequel. Be prepared for the written exam on May 10, 2010. Jojo and classmates, study your lessons well. You might be asked to recite.

Email me at, or text me at 0917 623 8842. The first letter-writer or texter will be allowed reimbursement for your text or internet load. No audit. No questions asked.

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