16 Others also acquitted:
Cebu,Philippines – After over a decade, the Sandiganbayan has acquitted former Lapu-Lapu City mayor Arturo Radaza and 16 others of graft charges over the alleged purchase of substandard and overpriced computers in February 2005.
In a 47-page decision dated October 18, the Sandiganbayan Seventh Division ruled that the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the respondents violated Section 3 (e) of RA 3019 or the Anti-Corrupt and Practices Act.
“The prosecution failed to prove unwarranted benefits to Kein Enterprises, which resulted in undue injury to the government, whether from the deviation from the specifications from the purchase order or from overpricing,” the court said.
The other accused were former Bids and Awards Committee member now incumbent assistant city attorney Michael Dignos; former city administrator Teodulo Ybañez; Victoria Andoy; Elena Pacaldo; Engr. Rogelio Veloso who headed the Technical Working Group; his members Dr. Cipriano Flores, Engr. Sharon Baguio, Buenaventura Igot, Jerico Mercado and Engr. Maribeth Soroño; Marita Guiao; Cleofe Solis; Leandro Dante; Ernesto Imbong; Rogaciano Tampus; and computer supplier and manager of Kein Enterprises, Jennet Valencia.
The case stemmed from a complaint filed by businessman Efrain Pelaez alleging that the accused caused undue injury to the city government and gave unwarranted benefits to Kein Enterprises with the “anomalous” purchase of 470 units of computers amounting to P23.476 million.
The computers were intended for the public high schools in the city.
On April 8, 2005, Radaza approved the purchase request of the Department of Education with an estimated cost of P49,950 per unit.
Kein Enterprises won the contract after a bidding process that was also participated in by ATX Enterprises and Global Chips Technologies.
In 2011, the Office of the Ombudsman indicted the accused after it found out that the computers should have been worth only P10.857 million, which is less than P12.619 million of that of the accused.
It said the transaction was more than double the prevailing market price since its computation showed that each unit cost only P23,100.
It also confirmed the findings of the Commission on Audit (COA) that 30 computer units were given to Caubian and Pangan-an High Schools despite the non-availability of power supply while another 29 units were found to be defective and not functioning upon inspection.
The Ombudsman found out further that the units delivered by the supplier were of “inferior quality” compared to what was specified in the purchase order.
The Sandiganbayan ruled, however, that overpricing was not proven and COA did not render a report on the overpricing of the computer sets.
“Still, in order to ascertain whether the injury suffered by the government, or the benefit received by Kein Enterprises, if any, was substantial or negligible, this Court would need a point of reference – the actual price of the exact items in the Purchase Order, which was not proven,” the decision read.
There is also no manifest partiality and unwarranted benefit, advantage or preference to Kein Enterprises in its selection as supplier of the computer sets, it said.
It held further that the deficiencies found after the first inspection have been rectified despite the prosecution’s insistence that only 29 units were repaired by Kein Enterprises.
It said that the prosecution presented no independent evidence of the computers’ defects or that these defects actually remained after the COA reported that they have already been rectified.
Sandiganbayan has set aside the Hold Departure Order (HDO) it issued on November 4, 2014 and ordered to recall and cancel the order issued by the Bureau of Immigration incorporatin the names of the accused in the HDO.
Sought for comment, Radaza said justice and truth win against malicious prosecution.
“Ang katinuoran ug hustisya sa kaso nga walay basihan motumaw gayud (Truth and justice will always prevail over allegations that are unfounded),” he said.
Meanwhile, Dignos reiterated his stand that the case had no leg to stand on and was just used as a political pawn.
“The truth, nothing but the truth has set us free,” he said.