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Ex-Nueva Vizcaya gov Cuaresma faces probe over P4M hospital anomaly

State auditors have recommended an investigation on former Nueva Vizcaya governor now congresswoman Luisa Cuaresma over the anomalous procurement of P4.81 million hospital equipment in 2010.

This after the Commission on Audit (COA) recommended for the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate Cuaresma and five other provincial officials for fraud over the irregularities in the procurement of hospital equipment in 2010.

COA chairman Michael Aguinaldo, and Commissioners Jose Fabia and Isabel Agito ordered the COA Prosecution and Litigation Office to forward the audit results to the Ombudsman “for investigation and filing of appropriate charges, if warranted.”

The Commission Proper also reversed the June 2012 decision of COA Region 2 that granted the appeal and lifted the notice of disallowance originally issued on April 10, 2011.

According to the COA, the provincial government purchased various medical equipment from Medisafe Philippines Inc. in 2010 for the use of the Nueva Vizcaya Provincial Hospital without the benefit of a public bidding.

Provincial General Services Office head Tomas Garra, acting chairman of the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC), said the transaction did not pass through his office, the auditors were told.

Antonio Sevillano, COA representative to the BAC, said there was no opening of bids for medical equipment purportedly held on March 16, 2010.

“The procurement of medical equipment by the province without the required public bidding was in violation of Republic Act No. 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act. Public funds expended therefor must be recovered from the payees and/or from the persons who made possible the illegal disbursement, without prejudice to possible criminal prosecution,” the COA said.

The COA found Cuaresma liable due to her approval of the BAC resolution that awarded the contract to Medisafe without basis.

The resolution was also found to be defective due to the absence of the signature of Garra, COA said.

The COA also found the following liable for the notice of disallowance – Sangguniang Panlalawigan member Glen Afan, provincial administrator Manuel Tabora, provincial legal officer Desiderio Perez, supply officer Eilyn Dacuycuy, and officer-in-charge of the Office of the Provincial Treasurer Rhoda Moreno.

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