Ex-Iloilo execs get 8 years for graft

Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - November 20, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Two former provincial officials of Iloilo have been sentenced to up to eight years in prison for the purchase of an overpriced laptop in 2007.

Former Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel Mejorada and general services office head and provincial bids and awards committee (BAC) chairman Ramie Salcedo were found guilty of violating Section 3 (e) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, the Sandiganbayan’s Seventh Division said in a 49-page decision promulgated on Oct. 2.

The court also ordered Mejorada and Salcedo’s perpetual disqualification from holding public office.

Former BAC members Patricia Grace Trabado, Edgar Piansay Sr. and Danny Baldemor were acquitted. The court said the prosecution failed to establish their participation in the crime.

Filed by the Office of the Ombudsman in 2017, the case stemmed from the provincial government’s purchase of an Acer Aspire laptop worth P99,000 from the supposed lone bidder, Seven Seven Trading.

However, graft probers said what was inspected and accepted from the supplier was an Acer Travelmate which cost only P59,900 at the time.

The ombudsman said the delivery of an item contrary to what was specified in the purchase request is in violation of the Government Procurement Reform Act.

The seventh division said the ombudsman’s prosecution team was able to prove that Seven Seven Trading was not a legitimate supplier of laptop and was only a middleman.

The court said the accused failed to show that the BAC exerted efforts to attract legitimate and competitive bidders.

“Salcedo and Mejorada, who were part of the BAC acted with manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence when they considered Seven Seven Trading as the lone bidder and recommended its bid to the governor,” the court ruling read.  

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