Lawmaker, 12 others cleared on lampposts

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10:35 PM January 28th, 2013

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By: Jhunnex Napallacan, January 28th, 2013 10:35 PM

CEBU CITY—The Sandiganbayan has dismissed a complaint filed against Lapu-Lapu City Rep. Arturo Radaza and 12 other people in connection with the alleged overpriced purchase of lampposts in 2007.

In a 15-page decision dated Jan. 17, the antigraft court noted the Ombudsman’s admission that it needed to conduct a deeper investigation to substantiate the allegation that the contract entered into by the accused was manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the government.

It said the information of the case did not include labor, transportation and other expenses in the installation of the lampposts.

These only showed no probable cause to warrant the filing of the case, the court said.

But Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas, Pelagio Apostol, in an interview with station dyLA on Monday, said the labor, transportation and other costs had been included in the information of four of the seven cases related to the lamppost controversy.

The four had been returned to the Ombudsman for further preliminary investigation and has since been refiled, Apostol said. The dismissed one and two others were not returned, he added.

“We did not admit that we did not have evidence. We do not file (a case) without evidence. Maybe, they (Sandiganbayan) have a different appreciation (of the evidence),” Apostol said.

Also cleared of any violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act were 11 officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), namely, Robert Lala, Gloria Dindin, Marlina Alvizo, Pureza Fernandez, Agustinito Hermoso, Luis Galang, Restituto Diano, Buenaventura Pajo, Julito Cuizon, Fernando Tagaan Jr. and Rogelio Veloso of the Lapu-Lapu city engineer’s office; and Isabelo Braza, president of Fabmik Construction and Equipment Supply Co. Inc.

The Sandiganbyan said the Ombudsman refused to give copies of some documents to the respondents, depriving them of the chance to prepare their counteraffidavits.

Apostol noted that the dismissal of the case was without prejudice to the case against the accused. This would mean that the Ombudsman-Visayas could still refile the case or file a petition for certiorari before the Supreme Court.

“My hope is that those who committed mistakes would be punished. We don’t agree that those who have committed violations would get away with these. Justice will prevail,” Apostol said.

It would not be a good example if those who committed violations would not be punished, he added.

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