• Sandigan acquits Binay

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    The Sandiganbayan’s Fourth Division has acquitted former Makati Mayor Elenita Binay and two others from a graft complaint in connection with the alleged anomalous procurement of office furniture for the Makati city hall in 1999.

    Binay was charged in 2006 for allegedly procuring assorted furniture and accessories from Office Gallery International, Inc. without public bidding. The contract price of P13.25 million was allegedly overpriced by P3.6 million.

    In a 38-page decision promulgated on Thursday, the court acquitted Binay, Ernesto A. Aspillaga and Vivian Edurise because the prosecution failed “to establish the elements of the offense for which they stand charged.”

    Aspillaga was the former head of the Makati General Services Department while Edurise was the corporate officer of the firm that got the contract.

    “Without proof of the invalidity of the procurement under PO 9989, the Court finds that the prosecution has failed to establish that the accused ‘acted with manifest partiality, evident bad faith or inexcusable negligence’ in undertaking a repeat order under PO 10473, subject of this case. Likewise, there is consequent failure to establish beyond reasonable doubt that the actions of the accused in so conducting a repeat order for PO 10473 ‘has caused undue injury to any party, including the government, or has given any party any unwarranted benefit, advantage or preference in the discharge of his functions,” the tribunal said.

    It added that the procurement subject of Purchase Order (PO) 10473 was conducted without public bidding because the mode of procurement was repeat order.

    “While the parties during pre-trial enumerated various factual and legal issues for resolution by this Court, it is apparent that the primary factual issue for determination by this Court is whether or not the repeat order conducted for PO 10473 was a valid repeat order, as to make the negotiated purchase a valid exception to the general rule on public bidding,” the court said.

    Repeat orders may be made through negotiated purchase which is among the exceptions to the requirement of public bidding under the Local Government Code, it added.

    Associate Justice Jose Hernandez, who leads the court’s Fourth Division, penned the ruling which was concurred in by Associate Justices Alex Quiroz and Ma. Theresa Mendoza-Arcega.

    Earlier, the court’s Special Fifth Division dismissed the graft case filed against Binay in connection with the alleged anomalous award to Asia Concept International, Inc. of the procurement of office partitions and furniture amounting to P21.7 million for the New Makati City Hall Building in 2000.

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