MANILA, Philippines – The Office of the Ombudsman has dismissed the complaints for grave misconduct and dishonesty filed against Muntinlupa City Mayor Aldrin San Pedro in connection with the purchase of 40,000 trolley bags worth P22 million for the city’s public school children in 2008.
In a seven-page decision, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said San Pedro has been cleared of his past administrative cases following his reelection in 2010.
Morales said that based on a 1959 Supreme Court ruling, an elected public official is deemed “absolved” for any administrative infraction committed prior to his present term of office.
San Pedro was accused of violating Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act and the Local Government Code over the purchase of the P22 million worth of school bags.
Complainant Rafael Arciaga, a former city councilor, said the purchase had no budget appropriation since it was not included in the city government’s Annual Procurement Plan.
Arciaga said the city government funded the project through a bank loan, which burdened the city’s taxpayers with interests amounting to P8.8 million. The purchase was later issued a notice of disallowance by the Commission on Audit (COA).
San Pedro, however, argued that COA cleared the procurement of the questioned trolley bags after the city government submitted its revised APP, which covered the transaction.
In a separate ruling, the ombudsman denied a petition by another complainant to place the Muntinlupa mayor under preventive suspension along with Vice Mayor Artemio Simundac, 12 councilors, the city engineer, city budget officer, the OIC accountant, OIC treasurer and seven members of the bids and awards committee.
Abel Sumabat accused the city officials of graft in connection with the P55-million construction of a four-level 30-classroom structure for the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Muntinlupa. He said the bidding for the project was awarded to AM-FM Builders, which was allegedly connected to the mayor’s sister.