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Mental health doctors in hot water over ‘anomalous’ P60M project

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by Allan Yves Briones

14 former and current officials of the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) are facing possible criminal charges over an “anomalous” and “irregular” P60 million construction project in 2017.

Indicted in the complaint filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) before the Office of the Ombudsman last Monday are retired medical center chief Dr. Bernardino Vicente, Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) members Dr. Julien Guiang, Dr. Evelyn Belen and Penafracia Gladys Domingo, among others, including administrative officers and accountants.

In their complaint, the NBI recommended that they be charged for violations of Section 3 (e) of the anti-graft law, malversation of public funds and falsification of documents illegal under the Revised Penal Code.

According to NBI Deputy Director Vicente De Guzman III, the case originated from a complaint by NCMH chief Dr. Roland Cortez who brought concerns regarding the construction of the Pavilion 6-Extension which was awarded to Octant Builders in 2017.

“NCMH Officials conducted the bidding and recommended the award of the contract despite irregularities in the procedure they followed,” the NBI complaint reads.

In addition, the articles of incorporation of Octant Building disclosed that one of those named in the complaint, Clarita Avila, was was one of its owners – a clear violation of bidding practices.

“Despite the irregularities, the project was awarded to Octant Builders, and the latter was subsequently paid, despite lacking documents to support the Disbursement vouchers,” the NBI stated.

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