• Ex-Leyte officials convicted of graft

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    The Sandiganbayan has sentenced four former officials of Leyte to up to 10 years of maximum imprisonment over the irregular purchase of heavy equipment in 2005.

    Convicted for violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act were former Mayor Amando Aumento Sr. of Tunga town in Leyte, Municipal Accountant Lea Requiez, Municipal Treasurer Julita Falguera, and Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) Chairperson Alejo Costelo.

    They also face perpetual disqualification from holding public office.

    The case stemmed from the municipality’s acquisition of a P1.1-million farm tractor through direct purchase in 2005.

    “[T]he Court is of the view that right from the start, the accused did not contemplate public bidding as mode of acquisition [as]the accused decided to buy the [farm tractor]on the same day the BAC called and held a pre-bid conference,” the anti-graft court stated in a decision penned by First Division Chairman and Associate Justice Efren Dela Cruz.

    In its audit, meanwhile, the Commission on Audit (COA) found that the acquisition violated the government procurement law because a competitive bidding was not conducted and direct contracting was resorted to without complying with the conditions set by law.

    COA auditors also reported that the BAC referred to specific brand names and designated Aumento as requisitioning officer and canvasser at the same time.

    State auditors also found that advance payment for the purchase was made in violation of the Government Auditing Code and the Local Government Code.

    COA had issued an audit report and notice of disallowance as a result of its findings.

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