Pork spent on overpriced computers

Pork spent on overpriced computers

CEBU CITY - At least P38 million (S$1 million) in public funds, credited as pork barrel of ex-Representative Monico Puentevella, had been released from 2002 to 2005 for computer packages that turned out to be defective and unsuitable for school use.

The money was spent on packages of computers and accessories, supposedly for elementary schools in Bacolod City, but which turned out to be overpriced. Each package bought with Puentevella's pork cost P400,000.

Similar computer packages were bought for high schools, with each package consisting this time of two computer sets and accessories.

The computers, however, turned out to be defective and unsuitable for academic use, according to an investigation report. Central processing units (CPUs) did not work and did not project images onto monitors, except that of the face of Puentevella.

Reports that the packages were overpriced by at least P14 million prompted the Bacolod City legal office to file a complaint in 2007 for graft against Puentevella, Victoriano Triol of the Department of Education (DepEd) in Western Visayas and Merryland Publishing Corp., the computer package supplier based in Mandaluyong City.

Missing computers

Records of the case at the Ombudsman also showed that 56 computer units and IT (information technology) packages worth at least P22 million have not been accounted for, since only 41 units and IT packages had been delivered out of 97 computers that had been purportedly purchased using Puentevella's P38 million in Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), the official name of pork.

Six years had passed since the case was filed in the Ombudsman, where it remains pending. A check with the Ombudsman-Visayas showed that the resolution of the case and its records were forwarded to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales in June 28, 2012, for action.

Puentevella served three terms as Bacolod congressman from 2001 to 2010. He is now mayor of Bacolod.

In a text message, Puentevella said the schools that received the computer packages had issued certifications that the items were in good condition.

The complaint, he said, was politically motivated, since it was filed by then Bacolod City Legal Officer Allan Zamora, now deceased and lawyer of former Bacolod mayor and now Bacolod Rep. Evelio Leonardia.

Puentevella and Leonardia are political rivals.

"We did not even know that the case with the Ombudsman is still pending," said Puentevella in his text message. "I thought that this has been already resolved. At any rate, all the computer educational packages were fully delivered and turned over. We can prove that."

Jessie Garcia of Merryland Publishing said in his counteraffidavit that no competitive bidding was conducted because the company was an exclusive distributor of the software that was included in the computer packages.

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