Saturday, June 17, 2006

2 COWD execs linked to overpricing

TWO ranking officials of the Cagayan de Oro Water District (COWD) are facing an investigation over allegations that they were involved in the alleged overpricing of water meters and machines bought by the quasi-government company last year.

Councilor Zaldy Ocon said he would demand that the two COWD officials––Dr. Raymundo Java and Joel Baldelovar––be investigated on the basis of a complaint made by a group of employees of the company. Java is the chairperson of COWD while Baldelovar, a former broadcast executive, sits as a director of the board.

Java and Baldelovar were accused of having a hand in the alleged overpricing of water meters that were bought by the COWD for P1,900 each.

Ocon, citing the complaint, said the prevailing market price of a water meter like the ones bought by COWD is only P1,200, a difference of P700 each.

Ocon said the group of COWD employees have also linked Java and Baldelovar to the alleged overpricing of a compressor. The mechanical device costs some P900 thousand but COWD bought it for P1.8 million, according to the complaint, after a supposed meeting attended by Java and Baldelovar and the supplier.

The complaint, dated April 30, said the compressor supplier, Civic Merchandising, was given the go-ahead by the COWD board despite a declaration of a failure of bidding by the COWD’s Bids and Awards Committee last Nov. 10, 2005.

A day after Rey Tablan, the chair of the committee, declared the failure of bidding, the complaint said the same company priced the compressor at P1.8 million. Later, the complaint said, the COWD board approved a resolution in favor of Civic Merchandising.

Civic Merchandising’s first price quote for the compressor was P895 thousand but after the supposed meeting with Java and Baldelovar on Nov. 11, 2005, the price shot up to P1.8 million, the complainants alleged.

The signature of COWD technical assistant Leonarda Judith appeared in Nov. 11, 2005 resolution numbered 257, S-05, in favor of Civic Merchandising. On Nov. 17, a purchase order was made by COWD budget officer Marilou Ondap and this was approved by COWD manager Gaspar Gonzales.

Gonzales said he was on official travel and would discuss the matter with the COWD board on Monday.

Ocon said the complaint also showed that the COWD board approved a resolution that authorized the purchase of a welding machine without a proper bidding. The welding machine from Gemac Trading amounts to P984 thousand.

The complaining COWD employees alleged that welding machines with similar features can be bought for less than P500 thousand each.

Ocon said the complainants are regular workers of COWD but they requested anonymity for fear of harassment.

Ocon said he would ask the council to summon COWD officials so they could shed light on the complaint.

"I will ask that they be invited to explain the matter before the city council. There is a need to dig deeper into this issue in aid of legislation," said Ocon, adding that he feared that P905 thousand was pocketed in connection with the compressor deal alone.

Java sent this text message when Cagayan de Oro Journal tried to get his comment: ‘‘Sorry, I’m at a meeting.’’ He then asked that this paper get in touch with Baldelovar but the COWD director could not be located.

Ocon calculated that some P700 thousand could have likely been lost to corruption out of the water meter deal alone with Gemac Trading, a company owned by one Rey Zarate.

The water meters, according to the complaint, were inferior. (That can be read at Gold Star Daily)

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