• Ombudsman rests case in Binay P72-M graft charge

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    The Office of the Ombudsman finally rested its case in the graft charge of former Mayor Elenita Binay of Makati with more than a hundred articles of evidence on the table in the P72-million corruption case.

    Seven years after the case was filed before the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division, state prosecutors wrapped up their case in the filing of their 20-page formal offer of exhibits that outlined 117 documents the Ombudsman would like the Sandiganbayan to use as basis of their judgment.

    With its closure of its case, the defense will now have its day in the court to refute the evidence of the prosecutors, especially the testimony of star witness Commission on Audit (COA) commissioner Heidi Mendoza.

    The prosecution offered the main source of their evidence, the audit report of the special task force for local government units on Makati City that Mendoza once spearheaded.

    Among others, purchase order 9989 dated September 20, 1999 that showed the amount of P72.06 million for the furnishing in the New Makati City Hall was included.

    Fiscals zeroed in on purchase order 11106 which showed that in the P21.7-million purchase, at least P2.77 million was over-priced and P5.9 million was in excess of quantities.

    “It was found that there were indications of collusion between the companies who participated in the alleged bidding,” the prosecutors said.

    During the testimony of Mendoza, she said that the competing bidders—Office Gallery, Asia Concept International Inc. and MFE International—had connection since they were allegedly “owned by one and the same person.”

    Asia Concept International Inc. and Office Gallery International Inc. were managed by Beda Aquino. The third bidder, Vonjasper Enterprises, appeared to be a ghost company.

    Prosecutors said that Aquino signed at least four purchase orders and one disbursement vouchers on behalf of One Gallery. But Aquino also signed as representative of Asia Concept in one disbursement voucher.

    John Constantine G. Cordon

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