The Office of the Ombudsman has charged several former officials of the Cagayan de Oro Water District (COWD) and Palawan Gov. Jose Alvarez over the anomalous P193-million deal between Alvarez-owned Rio Verde Water Consortium, Inc. (RVWCI) and the COWD for a bulk water supply contract in 2005.

In a press release posted in its website, the Ombudsman found probable cause to indict former COWD Board Chairman Raymundo Java, former BOD Vice-Chairman Sandy Bass Sr., and BOD members Sarah Borja and Francisco Mendez, BOD Treasurer Bibiana Sarmiento; BOD Secretary Joel Baldelovar; former Local Water Utilities Administrator Lorenzo Jamora, and General Manager Gaspar Gonzales Jr.; and private respondents Edward Chona, President and General Manager of Geo-Transport and Construction Inc. (GTCI), and current Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez who owns RVWCI for the anomalous negotiated Bulk Water Supply Agreement in 2004.

The result of the investigation revealed that COWD and GTCI entered a Supplemental Agreement for the Cagayan De Oro City Water Supply System Improvement Project (Main Service Area) on December 23, 2005 for a contract price of P193,185,536.94. Records show that no public bidding was conducted and the deal was made through a negotiated contract.

Further investigation also found that COWD first entered into a Bulk Water Supply Agreement with RVWCI for the supply of treated bulk water on December 23, 2004 but procurement documents also revealed that even before the submission and opening of the bids on 18 November 2004, the BOD had already declared RVWCI as qualified to participate in the bidding despite the consortium’s failure to submit its eligibility documents such as its income tax returns and audited financial statements.

The Ombudsman resolved that the said acts of the COWD Board violated the procurement law and blatantly demonstrated impropriety and partiality.

Moreover, Java, Bass, Sarmiento, and Baldelovar were also indicted for violation of Section 7(d) of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees (Republic Act No. 6713) for accepting two water tankers and a brand new Toyota Revo vehicle in connection with the illegal negotiated contract.

Read the full report HERE.

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