Three senior local education officials in Palawan have filed graft charges against the province’s top education official, Natividad P. Bayubay, before the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) and the provincial government of Palawan, demanding her immediate relief as Schools Division Superintendent (SDS).
In an administrative complaint addressed to President Rodrigo Duterte and letter request addressed to Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez dated September 15, a copy of which was obtained by Palawan News, the officials accused Bayubay of misusing some P84.7 million in department funds for questionable transactions of which one was flagged by the Commission on Audit (COA) in a report.
The complaint was filed by Roger J. Cario, chapter head of the National Association of Philippine School Secondary Heads Inc. (NAPSSI), Rosalie C. Montealto, chapter president of Philippine Elementary School Principal Association (PESPA), and Renante T. Tabi, interim president of the Palawan Provincial Federation Teachers Association (PPFTA).
The three officials in their complaint called for the immediate removal of Bayubay from her current position.
COA audit findings
The complainants cited as their basis the COA’s findings released in February this year.
The COA audit memorandum, AOM No. 2020-006, issued on February 26, cited Bayubay for deficiencies in the procurement, payment, and liquidation of special cash advances on unutilized maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) funds amounting to P13.2 million.
The report noted the “excessive” purchase price of the learning materials based on the “uniformity in the suppliers” who participated in procurement in December 2019 amounting to P12,000 to P72,150 each. The bid had been awarded to a supplier from Quezon City through a procurement method which was changed without justification or prior resolution approved by the bids and awards committee (BAC).
“The unit cost procured and paid were more than twice the calculated amount per manufacturer’s price plus estimated shipping costs, the result was more than five times,” noted Josefina R. Ponciano, regional supervising auditor, in a 7-page audit observation memorandum.
Bayubay had been ordered by the audit commission to “explain various title used” on the purchased booklets and learning material packages and “reclassification of the recorded expenses to its proper account”.
The complaint also includes some P7.2 million allegedly spent to hold an “online seminar-workshop on the conduct of addressing mental health issues amidst the COVID-19 pandemic” when a similar free training was available from the Mental Health Psychosocial Services (MHPS) of the DepEd Central Office.
The training cost was charged to the MOOE allegedly unbeknownst to the school heads. They only found out the charging of the training when they checked the PhilGEPS posting an invitation to bid published on July 9, 2020, and Division Memorandum No. 152, s. 2020 (Webinar/Online Seminar-Workshop on the Conduct of Addressing Mental Health Issues Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic) dated August 3, 2020.
Item No. 4 of this memorandum said “no registration fee required”, but Item No. 7 said, “expenses relative to this activity shall be charged against school MOOE”. The three presidents of the school heads and teachers organizations found this as fraud and misleading, citing the training was pegged as free when in fact it was not.
The complainants also accused a certain Marlene M. Qullip, senior education program specialist for human resource development of the Palawan DepEd, for being “in cahoots” with Bayubay in charging a P4,500 registration fee to some 11,007 teachers throughout the province for “online capacity building activities to retool and upskill the personnel based on the demand of the new normal” caused by the pandemic (Division Memorandum 97, s. 2020).
The capacity building training did not push through when complaints were raised by some school heads and teachers, citing the free webinars provided by the Regional and Central Offices of the DepEd.
The memorandum issued for this training required advance payment for the registration to be sent through cash remittance in different payment centers indicated to a certain Jesusa Flores.
The public school teachers have raised complaints about the refund for the fee paid but were allegedly ignored by Bayubay.
The complainants also accused Bayubay of misusing P14.8 million in department funds for information education and communications (EIC) material and training packages based on a procurement bid entered into on July 23 with reference number 7097006. The complainants found this training another form of fraud similar to the online training on mental health amidst pandemic.
Attitude and lifestyle
The group also accused Bayubay of insulting Cuyunon teachers in Palawan for their ethnic identity during a virtual meeting when they complained about an irregular purchase by the department of ultraviolet lamps.
“Ang delivery ng UV lamps ang dahilan ni Bayubay upang laitin ang mga Cuyunon sa isang virtual meeting ng northern Palawan school heads dahil sa text message na nakarating sa kanya na nagrereklamo ang isang school head matapos matanggap ang nasabing UV lamp,” Cario said.
The three accused Bayubay of maintaining a lifestyle of “expensive furniture and electrical equipment” in her office which she had turned into personal quarters.
“Maluho ang lifestyle ni Bayubay. Ang ultimong personal nyang pang araw-araw na pagkain ay naka-charge sa Petty Cash samantalang may RATA naman syang natatanggap kada buwan,” Tabi, Montealto, and Cario stated in their complaint.
“Walang pakundangang pagkastigo sa gitna ng virtual meetings. When the investigation takes over, i-relieve muna si Bayubay dahil sobra-sobra itong ginawa niya lalo na sa mga pondo, pang-gugulpi sa kanyang mga tauhan,” Cario told Palawan News.
Bayubay was the former schools division superintendent of Zamboanga and Quezon City. She is yet to issue a statement regarding the various allegations being thrown at her.