North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza entered a not-guilty plea to graft charges she is facing before the Sandiganbayan’s First Division in connection with allegedly illegal procurement of diesel fuel in 2010.
Mendoza, who posted bail, was arraigned on Thursday and the court set preliminary conferences to November 2, 3, 4 and 9 where the parties will mark documentary evidence. The pre-trial was set on November 10.
The case stemmed from three counts of graft filed by the Office of the Ombudsman alleging that the fuel, costing P2.4 million, was bought from a gasoline station owned by Mendoza’s mother without public bidding.
The governor 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 used in road rehabilitation projects that took two days.
During preliminary investigation, Mendoza in her defense said she relied upon the Bids and Awards Committee’s determination that direct contracting was justified under the circumstances.
She added, “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.”