The case stemmed from the alleged anomalous awarding of a contract for the renovation of Ramiro Gymnasium, a multi-purpose building in Lam-An, Ozamis City in 2008. Philstar.com/File

Sandigan orders arrest of Ozamiz mayor, vice mayor for graft
Elizabeth Marcelo (Philstar.com) - February 5, 2017 - 3:13pm
MANILA, Philippines — The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan has ordered the arrest of Ozamiz City Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog Sr. and his daughter, Vice Mayor Nova Princess Parojinog-Echavez in connection with their graft case over the alleged anomalous awarding of a contract for the renovation of a gymnasium in 2008.
 
In its seven-page resolution promulgated on January 31, a copy of which was released to the media only on Sunday, the court's Fifth Division said it found sufficient grounds to order the arrest of Parojinog and Echavez in order to hold them on trial.
 
"The court is convinced that the prosecution presented ample evidence to support a finding of probable cause, hence the accused must be arrested and brought to trial," the resolution penned by Associate Justice Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega read.
 
Division chairman Associate Justice Rolando Jurado and senior member Associate Justice Rafael Lagos concurred with the ruling.
 
Parojinog and his daughter are facing a case of violation of Section 3 (h) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits a public official from having direct or indirect financial or pecuniary interest in any business, contract or transaction that his or her office is entering into.
 
The case, filed by the Office of the Ombudsman in November last year, stemmed from the alleged anomalous awarding of a contract for the renovation of Ramiro Gymnasium, a multi-purpose building in Lam-An, Ozamis City in 2008.
 
The contract was awarded to Parojinog & Sons Construction Company (PSCC) in which Nova Princess, who at that time was still a private individual, was serving as a managing partner.
 
In their joint motion for judicial determination of probable cause, the Parojinog father and daughter called for the dismissal of the case for supposed “lack of probable cause.”
 
The older Parojinog maintained that he had no interest in PSCC as it is a registered partnership between Nova Princess and his son Reynaldo Parojinog Jr.
 
Parojinog also claimed that the city government had no participation in awarding the contract to PSCC as it was the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) who was the procuring entity for the project while the city government was only the end-user.
 
In its resolution, the court said the issues raised by the respondents “are matters that are best ventilated during the trial proper of the case.”
 
The court also dismissed as “bereft of merit” Parojinog's argument that the Commission on Audit (COA) has already found the awarding of the contract to be above-board when it lifted in 2015 the Notice of Suspension it earlier issued on the project.
 
The court also did not buy Parojinog's claim that the case must be dismissed as the ombudsman has already cleared him of an administrative case which stemmed from the same alleged anomaly.
 
“The accused's reliance on the lifting of Notice of Suspension and discharge from the administrative case should not affect the instant case since administrative liability is separate and distinct from criminal liability,” the court pointed out.
 
“The court is duty-bound to exercise its independent judgment without its hands being tied by what transpired in the administrative case,” it added.
 
Parojinog Sr. was among the local officials Duterte named in July 2016 as allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade.
 
Duterte also named Nova Princess as the “wife” of high-profile Bilibid inmate Herbert Colanggo.
 
Parojinog Sr. had earlier denied involvement in the illegal drug trade, but admitted his daughter may have a “relationship” with Colanggo. Nova Princess' marriage from her former husband was annulled.

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