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Sandigan acquits Elenita Binay in P45 million graft case
In a 77-page decision promulgated yesterday, the court’s Special Third Division said the prosecution team of the Office of the Ombudsman failed to prove Binay’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt for two counts of violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and two counts of malversation of public funds under Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code.
STAR/File

Sandigan acquits Elenita Binay in P45 million graft case

Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - June 11, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan has acquitted Elenita Binay, wife of former vice president Jejomar Binay, of graft and malversation charges in connection with the allegedly anomalous purchase of P45.26 million worth of hospital beds and sterilizers for the Ospital ng Makati (OsMak) in 2000 and 2001 during her term as city mayor.

In a 77-page decision promulgated yesterday, the court’s Special Third Division said the prosecution team of the Office of the Ombudsman failed to prove Binay’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt for two counts of violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and two counts of malversation of public funds under Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code.

Also acquitted were former councilor and general services department head Ernesto Aspillaga, former city accountant Dulce Cruz and former city treasurer Luz Yamane-Garcia.

Convicted of two counts of graft, meanwhile, were former city supply officer Conrado Pamintuan and former administrative officer Jaime delos Reyes. They were sentenced to six up to eight years of imprisonment for each count of the offense and were ordered perpetually disqualified from holding public office.

Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang, chairperson of the Sandiganbayan’s Third Division which handled the cases, voted for the conviction of Binay.

Tang, however, was outvoted by Associate Justices Bernelito Fernandez, Ronald Moreno, Oscar Herrera Jr. and Alex Quiroz, who opted for Binay’s acquittal.

Filed by the Office of the Ombudsman in 2011, the cases stemmed from the allegedly anomalous purchase of hospital beds and cabinets worth P36.43 million in 2001 and autoclave sterilizers worth P8.83 million in 2000 for OsMak.

The ombudsman said the items were purchased from Apollo Medical Equipment and Supplies without any competitive bidding but rather through negotiated procurement.

The ombudsman said the supply contracts were also awarded to Apollo despite “spurious” documents claiming that it was the exclusive distributor of the hospital items.

In its decision, the Sandiganbayan said Pamintuan and Delos Reyes, as then members of the city’s committee on canvass, were the ones responsible for examining the documents submitted by prospective suppliers and selecting the supplier with the cheapest and most advantageous offer to the city government.

The court’s decision stated that the division “is more than convinced” that Pamintuan and Delos Reyes “committed gross inexcusable negligence in considering Apollo Medical as an exclusive distributor and that no suitable substitute of substantially the same quality existed in the market or even better and more advantageous to the government.”

The Sandiganbayan said the prosecution failed to establish the bad faith or criminal intent on the part of Binay, Aspillaga, Cruz and Garcia, as then members of the committee on awards, for relying on the recommendation of the committee on canvass to enter into a negotiated procurement with Apollo after the latter was falsely identified as the sole distributor of the items that the city intended to purchase.

The court noted that an audit report on the transaction as well as the testimony of one of the witnesses of the prosecution “confirmed that the documents submitted by Apollo Medical appear on its face value to be valid and authentic.”

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