The Court of Appeals (CA) has cleared Bislig City, Surigao del Sur, Mayor Librado Navarro of administrative liability in the alleged anomalous purchase of a hydraulic excavator worth P14.75-million in 2012.
In a 13-page decision promulgated on April 20, the CA’s Former Special Division of Five in Cagayan de Oro City reversed the earlier resolution of the Office of the Ombudsman finding Navarro and his co-accused guilty of grave misconduct in the administrative aspect of the case in connection with alleged irregularities in the purchase of a Komatsu crawler-type hydraulic excavator.
The appeals court, in reversing the Ombudsman’s March 20, 2017 ruling, which found him guilty of grave misconduct and ordered his dismissal from the service, said the Ombudsman capriciously and whimsically exercised its discretion and grossly misapprehended the facts in finding Navarro administratively liable for the offense as charged.
“Considering the competence and technical expertise of the BAC to handle to bidding process, there is no reason for petitioner not to rely on its recommendations. Thus, petition only acted well within the bounds of propriety when he approved the purchase of the hydraulic excavator from RDAK,” the CA said.
The Ombudsman, in its resolution, found Navarro and bidding officials guilty of grave misconduct for the purchase of a Komatsu crawler-type hydraulic excavator which the Commission on Audit found non-compliant with the technical specifications on engine power, bucket capacity and operating weight.
“(T)he TWG’s manipulation of data in its report; the award of the supply contract to RDAK despite the fact that it did not truthfully present in its bid the Komatsu PC200-8’s specifications, and the bidding was a failure as none of the bidders’ proposals were responsive; coupled with respondents going for RDAK’s less superior unit notwithstanding its glaringly higher price, all show respondents’ bad faith and manifest partiality toward the said supplier,” the Ombudsman said in its decision.
According to the Ombudsman, misconduct is the unlawful behavior or gross negligence by a public officer. The misconduct is grave if it involves elements of corruption, such as willful intent to violate the law or to disregard established rules.
“By respondent’s concerted acts clearly favoring RDAK, they accorded it the benefit, advantage and preference it did not deserve. Such acts are clearly willful in character and evince respondents’ flagrant disregard of their duty to protect the public interest,” it added. By GD