Mayor, other town officials charged in ‘overpriced’ purchase of vehicles

Published December 5, 2021, 2:27 PM

by Rey Panaligan 

Office of the Ombudsman

Criminal complaints have been filed against Mayor Gloria P. Ronquillo of Sto. Tomas in Pampanga, several other town officials and a private individual on the purchase of alleged overpriced vehicles last October for P12,485,000.

Aside from Ronquillo also charged before the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) were Regina C. Carreon, municipal treasurer; Nympha B. Lacsina, acting municipal accountant; Glibert B. Cruz, chairman of the town’s Bids and Awards Committee (BAC); Eliza Quiambao, secretary of the BAC, and Rowell D. Benitez, representative of JAC Automobile International Philippines, Inc.

The complaints were filed by Sto. Tomas Vice Mayor Matias C. Pineda who said that copies of the complaints were furnished the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and the Department of Interior and Local Government.

Pineda asked the OMB to file before the Sandiganbayan criminal cases against those charged for violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and the Government Procurement Reform Act.

He also asked the OMB to place Ronquillo and the other town officials under preventive suspension “in order that the administration of justice will not be compromised.”

His criminal complaint affidavit was received by the OMB last Nov. 29. He was assisted in the filing of the complaint by lawyer Tracy Y. Sangalang.

None of those charged could be contacted for comments. Once their answer or counter-affidavits are filed with the OMB, Manila Bulletin will come out with their side in a separate news story.

Pineda said his complaints were for the purchase last October of one fire truck, one mini dump truck, and one ambulance which were delivered to Sto. Tomas local government last November by JAC Automobile International Philippines, Inc.

He alleged that the three vehicles were “grossly overpriced at DOUBLE THE PRICE.”

In his affidavit, Pineda said “the three motor vehicles were purchased by the respondents (Ronquillo and others) in clandestine manner without the knowledge of the members of the Sangguniang Bayan of Sto. Tomas, Pampanga, and without any authority or Resolution from the Sangguniang Bayan of Sto. Tomas, Pampanga.”

He also alleged that “the respondents did not follow the rules and regulations in the conduct of bidding for the purchase of three motor vehicles by failing to conduct a bidding.”

“The respondents purchased the three motor vehicles from the supplier JAC Automobile International Philippines, Inc. where the respondent Mayor Gloria P. Ronquillo has a patent conflict of interest,” he said in his affidavit.

He alleged that “it is an open secret” that Ronquillo “is very close to the owners” of JAC Automobile International Philippines, Inc.

It was not known immediately if the OMB has acted on Pineda’s affidavit complaint.