Court convicts ex-Batangas town mayor

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The Sandiganbayan’s Fourth Division sentenced former Mayor Raul Bendaña of Lemery, Batangas to a maximum of 10 years’ imprisonment in connection with an P8.1-million computerization project for the town’s revenue generation system.

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In a 22-page decision, the court found Bendaña guilty beyond reasonable doubt and sentenced him to a minimum of six up to 10 years in prison with perpetual disqualification from holding public office.

Bendaña was charged in 2009 of violating Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act when he allegedly entered into a direct contract with Amellar Solutions in 2004 for the computerization of Lemery town’s revenue generation system without following the procedures under the procurement law.

The supplier was allegedly given unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the amount of P8,188,737, which was supposedly paid to it, according to the charge sheet.

Based on the same ruling, the agreement was signed on September 10, 2004 while the certification of availability of funds was issued by the then-municipal treasurer on September 28, 2004.

The ruling said Bendaña accepted the supplier’s deliverables before the municipal council passed on October 6, 2004 the ordinance that appropriated the project cost and which he approved on October 11, 2004.

Further, the court said “[t]he submission by the TECC of their report to the accused on the same day that the latter constituted it, in addition to the fact that accused’s [then ]Executive Assistant headed the TECC, further tended to show that indeed, there was an intent to ensure that Amellar Solutions will be favored in the TECC’s recommendation. Even the pre-feasibility study indicates that it was prepared by Amellar Solutions for the municipality.”

TECC refers to the Technical Evaluation Committee on Computerization, which Bendaña formed through an administrative order issued on October 22, 2003, in order to identify the town’s information technology (IT) requirements, establish specifications and assist in pre-qualifying IT providers, among other functions.

The decision was penned by Associate Justice Geraldine Faith Econg and concurred in by Associate Justice Alex Quiroz, who leads the court’s Fourth Division, and Associate Justice Reynaldo Cruz.

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