MANILA -- Jasaan, Misamis Oriental Mayor Grace Jardin and six members of the town's Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) are facing trial before the Sandiganbayan for violating Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019, or the “Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act,” for giving unwarranted benefit to Warren Gaurana, the owner of WGG Concrete Products and Mini Hardware.

Jardin, BAC chairperson Leo Casiño, vice chairperson Mark Allan Bagayna, members Liza Gaurana, Emrick Tabequero, Arlene Dacoco, and Warren Gaurana were found to have conspired in rigging the bidding for the supply of construction materials for the road concreting project in Sitio Igpit, Luz Banzon, Jasaan.

Documents showed that in July 2015, the respondents awarded the project to WGG as the lone bidder.

Warren Gaurana, the WGG owner, is the husband of BAC member Liza Gaurana.

In their defense, the respondents took into consideration the affidavit of disclosure of no relationship submitted by Warren “as an honest mistake as it was probably submitted on the presumption that respondent [Liza] Gaurana’s request that she be excluded from the BAC activities would be granted by the BAC.”

In its resolution, the Ombudsman said “respondent public officials displayed manifest partiality in favor of WGG when they awarded the contract and caused the disbursement of funds in its favor despite the fact that respondent private individual was not a qualified bidder under the procurement law, which provides that the relation of the bidder to the members of the BAC up to the third civil degree of consanguinity or affinity shall automatically disqualify the bidder from participating in the procurement of contracts of the procuring entity.”

It added: “the provision of the rules does not distinguish whether the person to whom the bidder is related within the third civil degree has recused herself from participating in the BAC proceedings.”

“At all events, respondent Gaurana was clearly active in the BAC proceedings as she was present during the opening of bids held on 24 July 2015 and even signed the BAC resolution which declared WGG as the bidder with the Single Calculated and Responsive Bid. Clearly, respondent Gaurana never precluded herself or was never precluded by the BAC from actively participating in the BAC activities,” the Ombudsman said. (PNA)