2 ex-mayors cleared of graft, bidding irregularities

The Sandiganbayan has cleared two former town mayors charged in separate cases a decade ago. The anti-graft court, in a decision dated July 17 and released online Tuesday, acquitted Gemino Imperial, former mayor of Pamplona town in Camarines Sur province, of graft arising from discrepancies in renting out heavy equipment of the local government in 2014. Imperial allegedly approved the rate of PHP500 per day for the rental of a back hoe and a grader despite an ordinance prescribing PHP1,200 per hour. The charge claimed the deal caused losses in rental income. In clearing Imperial, the court noted that there was no evidence of how much should have been charged and paid by the lessee and no record of the actual date and time of operation of the heavy equipment. There was also no proper record of the expenses borne by the lessee for the repairs and maintenance that should have been paid for by the local government unit. In a separate case, the Sandiganbayan acquitted former Mulanay, Quezon mayor Joselito Ojeda and members of the town’s Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) in connection with the 2013 purchase of a generator. The charges said the awarding of the contract for the procurement of one generator set for PHP500,000 pushed through despite the alleged ineligibility or disqualification of the bidder, Altax Maxpower Corporation (AMC). “In this case, the prosecution was not able to show that Ojeda and his co-accused BAC members conspired to give unwarranted benefits to AMC by allowing it to belatedly submit its technical documents. It was not even proven that the accused public officers obtained any pecuniary benefit from the transaction, or that they had any relationship with the AMC representatives,” the court said. The tribunal added it was not shown how Ojeda and the BAC members acted during the opening of the bids and they made a concerted action to commit the offense charged.

Source: Philippines News Agency