SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
The continued renewal of the contract of Helen Macasaet, an information technology (IT) consultant hired by the Supreme Court (SC) with the approval of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, raised a red flag, according to head of the Management Information Systems Office (MISO) of the SC.
During the 14th impeachment meeting of the House committee on justice tackled the hiring of Macasaet as an IT consultant to improve the SC’s Enterprise Information Systems Plan (EISP).
Macasaet received roughly P11 million for her services through six-month contracts over four years.
MISO Acting Chief Carlos Garay revealed that while he signed accomplishment reports, he had no supervision or control over the consultant. He also had no hand in drafting the terms of reference submitted to the SC procurement committee, which later led to the employment of Macasaet. He said the matters were handled primarily by the Office of the Chief Justice and staff member Michael Ocampo.
“I repeatedly protested personally to Atty. Mike [Ocampo] and to the Chief Justice on why there’s a continuing need for the consultant. But they said the consultant is needed. In fact, I tendered my resignation last year, June 13, 2016 [sic], because there’s a red flag for me as a lawyer on what’s going on,” Garay said.
Ocampo countered by saying the TOR was crafted with the inputs and technical knowledge of then-MISO Chief Ed Gavis. Resource speakers from the MISO however noted that Gavis was not primarily an IT expert.
Earlier in the proceedings, Garay questioned the employment of a generalised IT consultant such as Macasaet. He characterized the effects of Macasaet’s services on the overall judiciary system as “nothing substantial.”
“What I would need probably are specialised consultants—consultants who have specialties in specific fields. For instance, security of information systems. Not a generalised IT consultant,” he said.
Committee member Rep. Rodante Marcoleta lamented Garay’s testimony, saying it was an unfortunate revelation.
“In terms of the objective set forth by the EISP, it is supposed to improve the efficiency of the Supreme Court, nothing substantial happened...They were not even participants in the drafting of the TOR,” Marcoleta said.
For his part, committee vice chairperson Rep. Vicente Veloso admonished Ocampo over the decision to recommend in the TOR the fees of Macasaet, which jumped from P100,000 per month during the first six-month contract to over P252,000 per month on the subsequent renewals. Veloso further contested the necessity of such services.
He argued that process servers employed by the country’s judiciary receive only P15,000 a month. Process servers, like judges, are considered as providers of lifeline services or services that are directly integral to the judiciary’s processes.
Meanwhile, computerization services, such as those provided by Macasaet, are only considered support services. Lifeline services are therefore prioritized by the Congress during budgeting.
“Ang inuuna namin [sa Kongreso], kahit na private sector, sinasatisfy namin ang pangangailangan ng lifeline... Ito, binaligtad mo. Ang lifeline, process server, hindi tatakbo ang finality ng judgment kung walang process server. You can do away with Ms. Macasaet but binigyan mo ng P250,000 a month,” Veloso said. / CMBE