Ex-Cebu port execs acquitted of graft

MANILA For violation of their right to a speedy disposition of their case, seven former executives of the Cebu Ports Authority (CPA) were acquitted of graft by the Sandiganbayan.

In a resolution dated last Oct. 18, the Sandiganbayan's 2nd Division granted the motion to dismiss filed by former CPA executives Angelo Verdan, Dennis Villamor, Mario Tan, Oscar Lopez, Yusop Uckung, Ninfa Hernandez, and Elizabeth Suarez over the case of violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

The case stemmed from the complaint filed by the Office of the Ombudsman that the eight CPA officers, including Owen Roma, then the industry security officer, allegedly conspired to award the procurement of three second-hand motorbikes to Drei Bikes Trading, amounting to PHP465,000 on Dec. 18, 2006.

However, the anti-graft court gave weight to the arguments of the seven accused, except for Roma who did not file any motion, that at the time the Ombudsman filed the case before the Sandiganbayan on June 18, 2018, the amount involved in the transaction had already been returned to the government and the motorcycles, to the supplier.

Apparently, it was only after a five-year hiatus when the case underwent investigation. The information was eventually filed in court on June 18, 2018, the Sandiganbayan said in its ruling.

In their motion, the seven accused also argued that the Sept. 3, 2015 decision of the Cebu City Regional Trial Court, finding Roma liable for the transaction, constituted a supervening event that mooted out their criminal liability in the case.

The Cebu court also ordered Roma to pay PHP500,000 in damages, the seven former CPA executives said.

The anti-graft court noted that the inordinate delay has undeniably caused prejudice to the accused.

The long passage of time weakens their defense, as well as (the) accurate recollection of transactions that occurred 12 years ago, the anti-graft court said. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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