Sandiganbayan clears ex-Isabela mayor of graft

MANILAThe Sandiganbayan has cleared the graft charges against the former municipal mayor of Isabela province in connection with the alleged purchase of gasoline by the local government from the gas station owned by his daughter in 2008.

The Sandiganbayan Second Division, in a 21-page decision dated Nov. 23, 2018, acquitted former Luna, Isabela Mayor Manuel Tio of graft for failure of the prosecution to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

The anti-graft court ordered the return of cash and surety bonds posted by Tio for his temporary liberty, as well lifted the hold departure order issued against him.

Evidently, the prosecution failed to show that public bidding is required in the first place. The prosecution failed to prove whether the ARC Road Maintenance Project falls under the scope of R.A. No. 9184, the Sandiganbayan said in its ruling.

However, the Sandiganbayan said the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of R.A. No. 9184 provides that there are activities wherein the law will not apply.

The anti-graft court said that as the project is ODA (Official Development Assistance)-related, the failure of the prosecution to establish that public bidding is required "is detrimental in determining with moral certainty whether the accused acted with manifest partiality, evident bad faith, or gross inexcusable negligence, in allowing the direct purchase of gasoline from Automate Gas Station.

Court records showed that the Office of the Ombudsman accused Tio of allegedly violating Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

The Ombudsman alleged that the former local chief executive allowed the direct purchase and payment of gasoline expenses from August to October 2008 for the ARC Road Maintenance Project, amounting to PHP305,841.43, in favor of Automate Gas Station, owned by his daughter, Margaret Tio, without public bidding.

Section 10 of Republic Act No. 9184, or the Government Procurement Reform Act, in relation to Section 5 (n) and (o), the anti-graft court said provides that all acquisition of goods, consulting services, and the contracting for infrastructure projects by any branch, department, office, agency, or instrumentality of the government, including state universities and colleges, government owned and/or controlled corporations, government financial institutions, and local government units, shall be done through competitive bidding, except as provided for in Section 48 of the same law on alternative methods of procurement. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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