Mayor Monico Puentevella of Bacolod City has asked the Sadiganbayan to not issue the warrant of arrest against him, stressing that he only wanted the P26-million computer project to move forward.
In his 19-page motion, the former lawmaker said the Office of the Ombudsman erred in alleging that it was he who appointed Merryland Publishing Corp., a private contractor, in the P26-million graft and malversation case lodged against him.
Puentevella said that both the anti-graft agency and the complainants “stretch[ed]far too much the meaning of conspiracy” when they based allegations against him on a single follow-up letter.
To accuse Puentevella of being a conspirator on the basis of a March 11, 2002 letter is exaggerated, defense lawyer Redemptor Peig said.
“It must be accentuated that the contract for the procurement of the IT [information technology]packages was already awarded to Merryland Publishing when the said letter was written,” the motion read.
The defense said that the letter to former director and co-accused Victoriano Tirol of the Department of Education (DepEd)-Western Visayas never meant to force the award of the project to Merryland.
State prosecutors had said that it was Puentevella who asked Tirol to award the P26-million computer package to Merryland.
In the 2002 letter, however, Puentevella asked Tirol to “facilitate the speedy processing of the papers” in line with the project because it had been pending since the term of the late DepEd Secretary Raul Roco.
“As a district representative, it was incumbent upon accused Puentevella to ensure that projects funded by his [Priority Development Assistance Fund or PDAF] are implemented without delay,” the motion said.
The mayor said his only participation was the allocation and grant of his pork barrel fund for the purchase of the IT packages for the use of DepEd.
“Allocating a portion of his PDAF for the needs of the DepEd cannot be characterized as a crime. Anything that had transpired after the allocation of a portion of his PDAF was already beyond the control of Puentevella,” the motion read.
In closing, the mayor asked the Sandiganbayan Fourth Division to hold in abeyance the warrant of arrest and to dismiss the case, if not drop him from being a defendant.