THE anti-graft court Sandiganbayan’s Second Division has found probable cause to proceed to trial in the graft case filed against former Mayor Aldrin San Pedro, of Muntinlupa, and several others in connection with the allegedly anomalous purchase of trolley bags in 2008.
In a resolution promulgated Thursday and made public on Friday, the court denied for lack of merit motions filed by respondents, where they sought case dismissal.
“We have reviewed the allegations in the Information and the supporting documents charging the accused for Violation of Section 3(e) of RA 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act,” the resolution said in part.
It added, “After a careful evaluation of accused’s separate motions, we find the contentions therein not sufficient to set aside the findings of probable cause, and we rule that there exists probable cause to justify the issuance of warrants of arrest with respect to all accused.”
The resolution also put forward the immediate issuance of corresponding warrant of arrest and hold-departure against each of the accused, owing to their violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019.
The ruling was penned by Associate Justice Napoleon Inoturan and concurred in by Associate Justice Teresita Diaz-Baldos, who leads the court’s Second Division, and Associate Justice Michael Frederick Musngi.
The Office of the Ombudsman filed the case before the anti-graft court against San Pedro and 11 others last November.
It alleged that the respondents gave “unwarranted benefits, advantage and preference to CLMP Trading by causing the issuance of a purchase order in favor of CLMP Trading for the procurement of 40,000 pieces of trolley bags and causing the release of the amount of P22,000,000.00 in public funds…in payment thereof…”
The purchase order was issued and the P22 million was released despite the absence of an appropriation for the purchase of the trolley bags, which were not in the city’s 2008 Annual Procurement Plan, according to the charge sheet.
Further, it alleged that the bags were procured without public bidding as required under the law and that CLMP Trading “is not qualified due to legal, technical and financial deficiencies, to the damage and prejudice of the government.”
Also named respondents were former Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) Chairman Roberto Bunyi; former BAC Vice-Chairman Michael Racelis; former BAC members Avelino Orellana, Rodolfo Oliquino, Vicente Navarro, Peter Salonga and Sonia Laureta; former Technical Working Group (TWG) Chairman Roderick Espina; and former TWG members Edwin Suitado, Eduardo Bautista and Glenn Santos.
The court recommended a P30,000-bail for each of the respondents’ temporary liberty. REINA TOLENTINO