Samar solon, 6 others face raps over PHP69-M medicine scam

MANILA — Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has ordered the filing of cases for graft and malversation against former Samar governor and now Samar (2nd District) Rep. Milagrosa Tan and six others for their alleged involvement in the anomalous procurement of medicines worth PHP69,040,514.84.

Tan will face trial for five counts of violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019, or the “Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act”, three counts of violation of Section 3(g) of RA No. 3019 and five counts of malversation of public funds.

Standing as her co-accused are Bienvenido Sabanecio, Jr. (Provincial Treasurer), Francasio Detosil (Provincial Accountant), Rolando Montejo (Administrative Officer), Ariel Yboa (OIC-General Service Office), George Abrina (Supply Officer), and Roselyn Larce, representative of supplier, Zybermed Medi Pharma (Zybermed), a Pasig City-based company.

In its complaint, the Field Investigation Office (FIO) said that “the province of Samar, thru Tan, has been making extravagant purchases of drugs and medicines from Zybermed using its multi-million peso health fund.”

In a series of Annual Audit Reports and Audit Observation Memorandum, the Commission on Audit (COA) noted the irregularities such as the steady unexplainable increase in the year-end inventory balance of drugs and medicines from 2005 to 2007, the accuracy of the year-end inventory balance could not be determined due to lack of monitoring and inadequate record-keeping, and the intended beneficiaries/end-users of medicines could not be ascertained due to lack of distribution lists.

The COA issued Notices of Disallowance (NDs) in August 2007 for the irregular payments made by Tan, et. al. for the procurement of drugs and medicines totaling PHP64,385,534.30 and dental supplies worth PHP4,654,980.54.

It said that the transactions were “disallowed for being unnecessary and non-responsive to the exigencies of the service.”

The COA also observed that the disbursement vouchers were not supported with proper documents; the local government had no sufficient storage space for the large quantity of goods; non-submission of proof of consumption by the barangays; absence of proof that the items were received and inspected; and non-validation that the medicines were actually used for alleged medical missions. In addition, the Ombudsman verified that Zybermed had no valid business permit to be eligible to accept multi-million peso payments in 2007.

In the approved resolution, Ombudsman Morales said that “the disallowance is the disapproval in audit of a transaction, either in whole or in part, for being illegal, irregular, unnecessary, excessive, extravagant or unconscionable expenditure.”

Tan, et. al. failed to account for the disallowed amount totalling to PHP69,040,514.84.

“Tan and Sabanecio’s failure to question the observation of the COA in the NDs and the charges of the FIO in this complaint raises a prima facie evidence that they have placed such missing funds to personal use,” Morales added.

The resolution added that “the transaction in issue could not have been consummated without the indispensable cooperation of Detosil, who certified that the transactions were supported with complete documents; Montejo, who made the requisition even when there was no need of the items at the time of the purchase; Yboa, who received the goods despite the lack of space and signed the Acceptance and Inspection Report without indicating the date when the goods were received; Abrina, who did not indicate the date of inspection in the Acceptance and Inspection Report; and Zybermed Medi Pharma, thru Larce, who accepted the payment.”