CEBU City Administrator Floro Casas Jr. is facing criminal and administrative complaints before the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas for alleged irregular expenditures and transactions which he entered into on behalf of the City.
The case involves the alleged overpriced rentals of vehicles for the City’s free ride service program for health frontliners during the suspension of public transportation between March to November 2020 amid the raging Covid-19 pandemic.
In a 29-page complaint-affidavit filed before the Ombudsman-Visayas on Sept. 21, 2021, the complainants, Cebu City residents Nicaster Elim Lumacad and Andrew Jacalan Lumapguid, accused Casas of the following:
–Violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act (RA) 3019 for allegedly causing undue injury to the Cebu City Government and the public through evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence;
–Violation of Section 3(g) of RA 3019 for entering, on behalf of Cebu City, into alleged irregular and unconscionable rental contracts with several suppliers that are manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the City;
–Violation of Section 4(a) of RA 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees for allegedly wasting public funds, and
–Grave misconduct, serious dishonesty, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of service as penalized by RA 6770 or the Ombudsman Act of 1989.
These complaints stemmed from Casas’ transactions, on behalf of Cebu City, when he rented a total of 373 vans and jeepneys worth P48,902,000 for the free ride service.
Casas rented 278 passenger vans for a total amount of P37,834,500 (P5,500 each per day) and 95 passenger jeepneys for a total amount of P11,062,500 (P2,500 each per day) covering a continuous period of not less than nine months.
The procurement date for the van rentals, the complainants said, was from March 26, 2020, starting with 20 units of vans, until Nov. 13, 2020.
The rental period for the passenger jeepneys was from July 15, 2020 (starting with seven units) until Sept. 3, 2020.
The complainants said this was overpriced as they learned that the City Government of Lapu-Lapu, during the same period, also rented passenger vans, but only for P2,166.67 each per day.
Sought for comment, Casas in a phone interview on Wednesday, Sept. 22, said the transactions were in line with the procurement process.
“Niagi man na og canvass ug procurement process. Emergency purchase na siya, but even if emergency purchase na siya miagi gihapon na siya og canvass (It went through canvass. It was an emergency purchase but even if it was an emergency purchase, it passed through canvass),” Casas said.
“Di man g’yod mi mahadlok sa among mga procurements kay kana siya nga procurement, mi go through man g’yod na siya sa atong procurement process in accordance to the procurement law. Wala ra siguro nay lingaw ang nagsige og file-file og case against namo (We are really not scared of our procurements because this procurement went through the procurement process in accordance with the procurement law. Maybe that person who keeps on filing a case against us has nothing better to do),” Casas added.
Casas said he has yet to receive a copy of the complaint.
Lumacad and Lumapguid also questioned why there was a need to rent numerous vehicles when the City owns several government vehicles.
“If these amounts that respondent Casas spent did not take time to be released, why is it that the salaries of the 98 job-order nurses of the Cebu City Quarantine Center were delayed,” reads a portion of the complaint.
This is the third batch of cases filed against Casas this year, 2021.
Earlier this month, radio commentator Arturo Barrit lodged a complaint against Casas and other officials of the Cebu City Government before the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) 7 over the P19.5 million packed meals bought from a food caterer allegedly “favored” by the City.
Also this month, businessman Crisologo Saavedra filed a complaint at the NBI against Casas, Cebu City Attorney Rey Gealon, and six members of the Bids and Awards Committee for alleged anomalies in the bidding of the second phase of the City’s modern traffic lights and CCTV projects.