• Cotabato governor faces graft raps

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    THE anti-graft court Sandiganbayan’s First Division has found probable cause to proceed to trial in the graft charges filed by the Office of the Ombudsman against North Cotabato Governor Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza for the allegedly illegal procurement of diesel fuel in 2010.

    The charges were for violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

    The ruling was signed by Associate Justice Efren Dela Cruz, who leads the court’s First Division, and Associate Justices Maria Cristina Cornejo and Reynaldo Cruz.

    The court has also issued a hold departure order (HDO) directing the Bureau of Immigration to hold Mendoza’s departure from the country.

    An HDO means she would have to seek the court’s permission first whenever she will go on a trip abroad.

    In filing the cases against Mendoza, the Ombudsman alleged that the fuel was bought from a gasoline station owned by her mother without calling for a public bidding.

    Mendoza allegedly approved the release of P2.4 million from provincial funds to pay for 49,526.72 liters of fuel used for one road grader and four dump trucks which were utilized in the two-day road rehabilitation projects.

    Mendoza, who allegedly directly contracted with the gasoline station, said that “it was only the Taliño Shell Station which was willing to accommodate the credit term requested by the provincial government.”

    But the Ombudsman held that “there was no compelling justification for dispensing with the requirement of public bidding.”

    Section 3(e) of the anti-graft law prohibits public officials from causing undue injury to any party including the government, or giving a private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of their official functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence.

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