Sandigan halts proceedings vs former MWSS official

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The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan’s First Division has suspended proceedings in a graft case filed against former Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System Administrator Diosdado Jose Allado in connection with an allegedly anomalous award of a lease deal over an MWSS property, pending final resolution of a related or similar civil case at Branch 85 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City.

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In a six-page resolution promulgated last October 14, the court granted the Motion to Suspend Proceedings Due to Prejudicial Question, which Allado filed in August.

“Prescinding from the foregoing and pursuant to Section 6, Rule 111 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, this court must give way to the RTC to resolve the core issue and await its disposal decisive of the fate of the present criminal proceedings. Otherwise, two conflicting decisions may possibly arise,” it said in part.

Both cases stemmed form the award of a lease contract to SM Prime Holdings Inc. (SPHI) over an MWSS property along Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City allegedly without authority from the MWSS Board of Trustees (BOT) and allegedly without subjecting the firm’s lease proposal to the required Competitive Swiss Challenge.

The civil case seeks declaration of nullity of the deal.

Swiss Challenge is a “form of public procurement in some jurisdictions which requires a public authority (usually an agency of government) which has received an unsolicited bid for a public project (such as port, road or railway) or services to be provided to government, to publish the bid and invite third parties to match or exceed it.”

The prosecution opposed Allado’s move for the suspension of the proceedings at the Sandiganbayan but the anti-graft court found his motion impressed with merit.

The anti-graft court thus ordered that the criminal case proceedings be suspended pending final resolution of the civil case.

“In the meanwhile, the instant case is hereby ordered archived,” it said.

Associate Justice Efren dela Cruz, who leads the anti-graft court’s First Division, penned the ruling, which was concurred in by Associate Justices Reynaldo Cruz and Michael Frederick Musngi.

REINA TOLENTINO

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