Former Mayor Manuel Tio of Luna, Isabela and the town’s former municipal accountant have asked the Sandiganbayan’s Special Third Division to reconsider their conviction and acquit him of a graft case over the awarding of a supply contract for a road concreting project without public bidding in 2008.
Last month, the court found Tio and accountant Lolita Cadiz guilty beyond reasonable doubt for violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and sentenced them to six up to eight years’ imprisonment with perpetual disqualification from holding public office.
“The prosecution in this case failed to establish that notwithstanding the absence of any injury suffered by the Municipality of Luna, Isabela in the construction of the Harana-Mambabanga Road, accused Tio exhibited manifest partiality, evident bad faith, or gross inexcusable negligence, in the award of the supply contract to Double A Gravel and Sand. What the evidence on record show is the good faith of accused Tio in undertaking the road project and having it completed at a cost much below its program cost of P6.0 million, completed on time, and with construction materials at a volume much more than that required by the Program of Works,” Tio’s camp said in a motion for reconsideration filed earlier this month.
The case, filed in 2013, stemmed from the award of a deal to Double A Gravel & Sand (Double A) for the supply of materials for the concreting of a one-kilometer road in Harana and Mambabanga villages in Luna town.
During trial, Tio testified that no bidding was conducted because they relied on the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) under which the provincial government would provide P5 million for the road’s construction while the town would implement the concreting project.
He said that a public bidding could not have been conducted because the town did not have the funds at the time, and that Double A was the only supplier that agreed to provide the needed materials on credit.
But the court found that these did not justify the failure to conduct a public bidding.
It also found that Tio and Cadiz “acted with gross inexcusable negligence in causing the payment of P2.5 million to Double A despite the incomplete supporting documents…”
In a separate motion for reconsideration, Cadiz’s camp said “the provincial government retained absolute control of the funds” in the MOA “such that its releases shall be based on work accomplished.”
The defense explained that the funds will only be released when half of the work is done and the other 50 percent, when the project is completed.
Cadiz’s camp said she had nothing to do with the decision on how the Memorandum of Agreement was to be implemented under its terms, namely, to proceed without funds, on whether a bidding should have been conducted, and other problems.
Tio and Cadiz have been allowed by the court to post bail while filing appeal on its ruling.
REINA C. TOLENTINO