By Rey Panaligan
The Court of Appeals (CA) has reconsidered its 2018 decision and ordered the reinstatement of Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Cdr. Ivan Roldan who had been dismissed for purchasing office supplies and information technology equipment in 2013 without complying with government procurement regulations.
In an amended decision written by Associate Justice Apolinario D. Bruselas Jr., the CA agreed with Roldan that the emergency purchases were done by the PCG at the height of the international territorial disputes over the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
At the time of his dismissal by Office of the Ombudsman (OMB), Roldan was the deputy commander of Coast Guard Intelligence Force (CGIF). When the CA affirmed his dismissal, he filed a motion for reconsideration which was granted by the appellate court.
The CA noted Roldan’s manifestation that his unit, the CGIF, was tasked to supervise the conduct of intelligence operations in the WPS and that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) had acknowledged PCG’s efforts and its contributions to the filing of a case against
China before the International Arbitral Tribunal where the Philippines eventually won.
Roldan told the CA that the CGIF’s task was to monitor the activities affecting the Philippine coasts in Bajo de Masinloc and the Kalayaan Group of Islands.
Thus, he said, the emergency purchases of office supplies and information technology equipment were made without resort to competitive bidding because the situation at that time required the CGIF to be prepared for any contingency and to maintain a high degree of operational readiness to protect the country’s territorial interest.
The CA said that in its 2018 original decision, it held that Republic Act No. 9184, the Government Procurement Reform Act, “allows for alternative methods of procurement.” But it said, Roldan and his group failed to justify resort to the alternative methods.
In reconsidering its original decision, the CA noted that the questioned purchases were brought about by the territorial disputes in the WPS and hence, public bidding, under the circumstances, were not required.