Ombudsman finds Serafica guilty, orders filing of criminal raps, too

Former Sugar Regulatory Administrator Hermenegildo Serafica*Senate Public Relations and Information Bureau photo

The Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the filing of a criminal case against former Sugar Regulatory Administrator Hermenegildo Serafica for the three-year delay in SRA’s procurement of farm equipment in violation of the Government Procurement Reform Act.

The Ombudsman also found Serafica guilty of gross neglect of duty and grave misconduct and meted the penalty of dismissal from the service with accessory penalties of cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits, perpetual disqualification from holding public office and barred him from taking the civil service examination, a copy of the 21-page joint resolution released to the media Tuesday, October 3, said.

If the penalty of dismissal can no longer be implemented by reason of separation from the service, the alternative penalty of fine equivalent to his salary for one year shall be imposed, payable to the Office of the Ombudsman, the decision said.

A fine of Serafica’s one year salary as SRA administrator would be about P2.5 million, an industry source said.

Serafica resigned from the SRA in August 2022 following the issuance of a controversial sugar importation order.

The Ombudsman’s joint resolution stemmed from a complaint filed by Josephino Agosto of Super Trade Enterprises against Serafica for the “intentional and deliberate delay” in the release of a notice to proceed with the SRA purchase of 25 ripper harrowers despite the issuance of a notice of award.

A harrow is a farm implement used to level and smooth soil, break up clumps, and control weed growth.

“This Office cannot turn a blind eye on the three-year period it took to issue a Notice to Proceed. The delayed award, by itself, could have only amounted to Simple Neglect of Duty and Misconduct but the protracted period to notify the supplier to proceed with the delivery of the harrows is a badge of want of even the slightest care, or a conscious indifference to consequences, and flagrant disregard of an established rule,” the Ombudsman’s ruling said.

The Ombudsman ruled that Serafica was guilty of Grave Misconduct and Gross Neglect of Duty for his failure to timely award the contract, issue the notice to proceed, and comply with the procurement periods set under Government Procurement Reform Act and its Implementing Rules and Regulations.

The Ombudsman absolved eight other SRA employees charged with Serafica of criminal or administrative liability.*

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