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Ombudsman to indict Tabuk Mayor Estrañero for violation of Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act

Updated: Sep 1, 2023

Tabuk City, Kalinga – The Office of the Ombudsman found probable cause to charge Tabuk City Mayor Darwin Estrañero for gross overpricing of medical supplies and devices before the Sandiganbayan.

In a consolidated resolution dated November 28, 2022, which was only released on July 25, 2023, the office indicted Estrañero for violation of Section 3 (g) of Republic Act No. 3019 or the “Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.”

The Section 3 specifies corrupt practices of public officers which include (g): “Entering, on behalf of the Government, into any contract or transaction manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the same, whether or not the public officer profited or will profit thereby.”

Back in 2020, the then Vice Mayor Bernard Glenn M. Dao-as and other taxpayers filed a series of criminal cases against Estrañero for overpriced procurement of medical supplies at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

These cases, according to the respondent, are “politically motivated, borne from ill-will and political jealousy because complainant wants to besmirch his reputation and use the cases for political gains.”

However, elements of violation of Sec. 3 of RA 3019, according to the Ombudsman, were sufficiently established.

“Despite the issuances on Price Freeze on Emergency Supplies under JMC No. 2020-01 dated 18 March 2020 issued by the DTI, DA, and the DOH38 - records disclose that respondent City Mayor Estrañero entered into contracts grossly and manifestly disadvantageous to the City Government of Tabuk, by purchasing medical supplies that were grossly overpriced (ranging from 135% to 609% overprice),” said the Office of the Ombudsman in its 57-page consolidated resolution.

A price ceiling of P400 per unit of personal protective equipment (PPE) with shoe cover and glasses was imposed but the contract price, as signed by Estrañero, shows that each PPE was then bought from Empyrean for P2,440.00. The LGU bought the 500 PPEs for P1,220,000.00 which should only be at P200,250. Procurement of this product alone has a 609% overprice percentage.

The infamous thermal scanners were bought for P12,000.00 each but the price ceiling was sealed at P3,400.00 per unit. Instead of paying for only P340,000.00, the contract entered into by Estrañero states they paid for P1,200,000 thus, the product’s overprice rate is at 353%.

Below are other overpriced medical supplies and devices procured by Tabuk City:

“Estrañero signed the PO, Notice of Award, and admitted to transacting or entering into a contract with said suppliers,” Ombudsman affirmed.

“Regarding his defense that in case of an overprice, the government is given ample protection because of his undertaking to refund the difference is of no moment because agreeing and entering into such manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the government transactions already consummated the act which Section 3 (g) of RA No. 3019, as amended, punishes,” it added.

Meanwhile, criminal cases against BAC officials and members Arnold Tenedero, Arthur Kub-ao Sr., Juanito Amangan Jr., Elmer Agliam, Edgar Sannadan, and Mary Grace Pocais, including City Health Officer Henrietta Bagayao, were dismissed without prejudice.

Cases against private respondents Lea Galao, Louella Pasion, Jeanette Purisima, and Czearina Divina were also dismissed.

The Office of Mayor Estrañero has yet to release a statement or comment on the said matter.

Late last month, Estrañero was asked by the Ombudsman to soon serve a 6-month suspension, in relation to administrative cases also filed against him by former Vice-Mayor Dao-as and other complainants.


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