The Sandiganbayan’s First Division has found former Pasay Mayor Wenceslao Trinidad and former City Councilor Jose Antonio Roxas guilty of graft in connection with the bidding and award of a project for the construction of the Pasay City Mall and public market in 2004.
Each of the accused was meted 10 years in prison were perpetually disqualified from public office.
The Office of the Ombudsman filed the case in 2011, claiming that the accused, conspiring with private individuals Joselito Manabat and Alexander Ramos, gave unwarranted benefits to Izumo Contractors, Inc. by granting the P489.95-million project to the company.
It was alleged that the respondents reconvened the Pre-Qualification Bids and Awards Committee (PBAC) and conducted a public bidding then declared Izumo as the winning bidder, when a new BAC was created on December 29, 2003 under Republic Act (RA) No. 9184 effective 2004 in which the accused are no longer chairman and member.
The court said Trinidad abolished the PBAC in compliance with RA No. 9184 when he issued an executive order (E.O.) creating the Pasay City BAC on December 29, 2003.
It added that Trinidad reconvened the defunct PBAC to conduct the bidding of the project under Presidential Decree 1594 “knowing fully well” that RA No. 9184 was already in effect by his issuance of the E.O.
The court said the two officials “gave (Izumo) unwarranted benefits, advantage and preference, as such acts not only indicate a dishonest purpose or some moral obliquity, the conscious doing of a wrong, and a breach of sworn duty through some bad motive or intent or will but also constitute corruption or abuse of authority.”
Trinidad claimed that he merely relied on the advice of the city legal officer on the interpretation of RA No. 9184 and this should not give rise to a criminal liability.
But the court was not persuaded.
“That accused Trinidad and Roxas ignored the provisions of RA 9184 and proceeded with the subject bidding of the Project under the old procurement law despite knowing the existence of said law and the written objection of one of the members of the PBAC on their authority to conduct the bidding coupled by accused Trinidad’s creating the BAC under the provisions of RA 9184…which is already in effect, prudence and/or common sense dictate/s that instead of seeking and relying on the legal advice of…their Legal officer, they should have refrained from proceeding and let the new BAC handle the bidding of the Project,” it said.