Anti-graft court junks case vs 7 former, current officials of Davao water agency
DAVAO CITY, Philippines—The Sandiganbayan recently trashed the graft case the Ombudsman filed against seven ranking officials of the Davao City Water District (DCWD) in 2008.
In a 23-page resolution dated May 3, which reporters obtained the past week, the Sandiganbayan said there was no probable cause to indict then assistant general manager Wilfred Yamson, department manager William Guillen, department manager Rey Chavez, department manager Arnold Navales, division manager Rosindo Almonte, assistant general manager Alfonso Laid, and then general manager Wifredo Carbonquillo for graft and corruption.
The case stemmed from a complaint lodged by two DCWD employees before the Ombudsman, accusing the officials of misdeeds by entering into a negotiated contract with a private company in 1997 for a P5-million drilling project.
The Ombudsman Mindanao decided that the complaint was valid and went on to criminally charge the officials before the Sandiganbayan.
The Ombudsman said it found that the accused DCWD executives “acted with manifest partiality or evident bad faith to bestow unwarranted benefits to Hydrock Wells Inc.”
The Ombudsman also said that the accused conspired with each other to disadvantage the government.
Except for Carbonquillo, those charged were members of the bids and award committee-B chaired by Yamson.
Yamson and Carbonquillo later retired from service, Guillen resigned while Chavez, Lain, Almonte and Navales were ordered suspended by the Ombudsman.
In the decision, the Sandiganbayan said it found no probable cause to pursue the case against the respondents and that the negotiated contract was recommendatory in nature.
It noted that the DCWD board of directors had the sole authority to approve any contract.
“Clearly it is the board of directors, and not the members of PBAC or Carbonquillo, which has complete discretion relative to the award of contract of the project. It must be noted that not one of the members of the board was included in the information,” the Sandiganbayan said.
The Sandiganbayan added that it would be difficult to imagine that only the PBAC members and the general manager were responsible for the supposed irregularities.
In short, the Sandiganbayan said no actual irregularity might have taken place in the awarding of the contract.
“Surely, had the bidding process been irregular, the board ought to have suspended the awarding of the well-drilling project. But this the board did not do,” the anti-graft court said.
It said that records were bereft of evidence to show that the members of the board were victims of the manipulation or trickery by the PBAC-B.
“In light of the foregoing, we have no other choice but to simply dismiss the case. There is no reason to hold the accused for trial and further expose them to public accusation of the crime when no probable cause exists,” the Sandiganbayan concluded.
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