Acting on the orders of the Office of the Ombudsman, the Department of Finance (DOF) has dismissed from the service for grave misconduct a municipal treasurer from Guimbal, Iloilo for her involvement in the P728-million fertilizer fund scam.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III also ordered the temporary suspension of three other officials and employees under DOF supervision, based on separate orders by the Office of the Ombudsman and the Civil Service Commission.
Dismissed from the service was Ma. Asuncion Isabel Gargalicano, the municipal treasurer of Guimbal, Iloilo in 2004 for “acting in complicity” with then Mayor Oscar Garin Jr. and other municipal employees in the anomalous procurement of P3 million-worth of Bionature liquid organic fertilizers from Feshan Philippines Inc.
According to the Ombudsman’s findings, the municipal government intentionally shortcut the procurement process to direct contracting to skip the public bidding for the fertilizers and ensure that Feshan bagged the P3-million contract.
The Ombudsman also found out that Feshan’s Bionature liquid fertilizer was grossly overpriced at P1,500 per bottle, as a similar product can be procured at only P120 per bottle.
Gargalicano was also meted the accessory penalties of cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits except for accrued leave credits, and perpetual disqualification for reemployment in the government service.
The Ombudsman said that in the event that the penalty of dismissal from the service is no longer applicable, Gargalicano would instead be penalized with a fine equivalent to her one-year salary.
Meanwhile, Onofre Natividad, the municipal treasurer of South Upi in Maguindanao was ordered suspended for three months and one day without pay for simple neglect of duty.
The Ombudsman ruled that he was partly responsible for the failure of the municipal government of South Upi to remit the contributions of its employees to Pag-Ibig and GSIS and the taxes withheld on compensation to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) from January to December 2007.
In a separate ruling, the Civil Service Commission found Jacinto Villaviray, Security Guard II of the Bureau of Customs, liable for failure to file his Statement of Assets and Liabilities and Networth with disclosure of business interests and financial connections for the year 2014.
Villaviray was penalized with three months suspension without pay with the accessory penalty of disqualification from promotion during the period of suspension.
Eduardo Pagulayan Jr., the acting director of the BIR Revenue Region 1 in Calasiao, Pangasinan, was punished by the Ombudsman for insubordination with a penalty of one month and one day suspension without pay.
Pagulayan was found to have defied the order of then-BIR Commissioner Kim Henares issued in May last year to reinstate Marina de Guzman, as OIC regional director in the same revenue region where Pagulayan was assigned.
The Ombudsman had dismissed De Guzman from the service in 2015 when she was then the Assistant Regional Director of BIR Revenue Region 7, but the latter was able to appeal her case before the Court of Appeals, which ordered her reinstatement. Pagulayan refused to implement the appellate court’s order despite Henares’ clear instructions.
According to the Ombudsman, Pagulayan was “duty bound to obey and comply with directives of the Court of Appeals and his superior regardless of his opinion and interpretation of the law.”