‘Strong evidence to convict Surigao del Sur vice governor for graft’
Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - July 21, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — There is sufficient evidence to convict Surigao del Sur Vice Gov. Librado Navarro of graft over the alleged anomalous procurement of a heavy equipment worth P14.7 million when he was mayor of Bislig City in 2012, according to the Sandiganbayan.

In a resolution promulgated on July 9, the anti-graft court’s second division said the evidence presented by the Office of the Ombudsman’s prosecution panel are strong enough.

“The evidence... testimonial and documentary as well as the admissions and stipulations of the parties appear to be prima facie sufficient to sustain a conviction unless successfully rebutted by defense evidence,” the ruling penned by Associate Justice Oscar Herrera Jr. read.

The court denied Navarro’s motion to file a demurrer to evidence, which would have allowed him to seek the dismissal of the case without presenting his defense.

It also denied similar motions filed by Navarro’s co-accused – municipal bids and awards committee chairman Charito Lerog; BAC members Roberto Viduya, Aprodecio Alba Jr., Belma Lomantas, Lorna Salgado and Daisy Ronquillo, city technical working group chairperson Raquel Bautista and TWG members Gilbert Abugan, Laila Manlucob and Estefa Mata as well as of private respondent Cesar Ner of RDAK Transport Equipment Inc.  

Filed by the Office of the Ombudsman in 2017, the case stemmed from the city government’s purchase of a hydraulic excavator worth P14.7 million from RDAK Transport Equipment Inc.

The ombudsman said the contract was awarded to RDAK despite its “less superior unit notwithstanding its glaringly higher price” and even though the firm failed to provide technical specifications during the bidding.

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