Three former officials of Looc town in Romblon, charged with graft along with former mayor Juliet Ngo-Fiel, are asking the Sandiganbayan’s First Division to dismiss the graft case filed against them.
Former Municipal Agricultural Officer Jessie Jomadiao, Municipal Civil Registrar Wilma Pastor, and Municipal Assessor Rolando Gregorio have filed an urgent omnibus motion for judicial determination of probable cause and to hold in abeyance the issuance of a warrant of arrest.
In the said motion, they asked the anti-graft court to “make a judicial determination of probable cause for their alleged violation of Section 3 (e) of Republic Act No. 3019 because the evidence adduced before the Office of the Ombudsman cannot support a finding of probable cause to justify the filing of the instant information [charge sheet]and consequently the issuance of a warrant of arrest.” Republic Act 3019 is the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
“[t]ruth be told, accused-movants Jomadiao, Pastor and Gregorio will not allow that their long years of public service and reputation be tarnished simply because they got caught in a crossfire of criminal and administrative complaints being hurled at each other by private complainant Arboleda and his family and herein accused Ngo-Fiel in their struggle to claim the mayoralty in Looc, Romblon,” they added.
The graft case stemmed from a 2009 complaint filed by former Looc, Romblon mayor Manuel Arboleda.
Last month, the Ombudsman charged Jomadiao, Pastor, Gregorio, Ngo-Fiel, former Municipal Planning and Development Coordinator Solomon Gregorio, and Municipal Engineer Renato Saludaga of violating the anti-graft law by awarding a contract in 2007 for the Rehabilitation of Small-Scale Irrigation/Small Water Impounding Project to the lone bidder R.G. Florentino Construction and Trading (RGFCT ) and for the disbursement of P8,999,500.
This was “[n]otwithstanding the lack of authority of accused Ngo-Fiel from the Sangguniang Bayan [Municipal Council] of Looc, Romblon to enter into a contract in behalf of the municipality, and lack of qualification and/or non-eligibility of the winning bidder RGFCT, to participate in the public bidding, and despite several irregularities and instances of fraud attending the public bidding and execution and consummation of the transaction in favor of RGFCT,” said the charge sheet.
Solomon Gregorio led the bids and awards committee with Saludaga as Vice-Chairperson while Jomadiao, Pastor, and Rolando Gregorio were BAC members at the time.