Rep. Arturo Radaza of Lapu-Lapu City is not yet off the hook in the multi-million peso lamppost case.
Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Pelagio Apostol yesterday said his office would refile the criminal charge against Radaza and other persons in court over the controversial purchase and installation of the decorative lampposts in Cebu.
Though the Sandiganbayan recently dismissed the case against Radaza for lack of evidence, Apostol said the ruling was dismissed “without prejudice” to the refiling of another case if evidence warrants.
“We will strengthen our evidence. The supposed lapses will be corrected,” Apostol told reporters yesterday.
He said they will no longer go to the Supreme Court to contest the dismissal of the charges. Instead, the Visayas Ombudman will conduct another preliminary investigation to solidify the case.
This time, they will clearly present the cost of labor and materials, information the Sandiganbayan earlier noted was lacking.
“They (Radaza’s camp) just have to prepare their evidence if he is not guilty. If they will be able to prove that there is really no basis to charge Congressman Radaza, well and good. But we will see to it that justice is done,” Apostol said.
One criticism about the graft case was that only local officials were charged when the lampposts installed for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit in 2007 in Cebu were a national project of the Dept. of Public Works and Highways.
“How can we include the national officials who allegedly benefited out of the transactions when there are no evidence pointing to them?” asked Apostol.
“My jurisdiction is limited. If they committed a crime here, I could have conducted an investigation. But if they sign the (anomalous) papers in Manila, it is already outside of my jurisidiction,” Apostol added.
The Ombudsman-Visayas originally filed seven criminal cases against the mayors of Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu cities and several officials of the DPWH regional office and city governmnets. Two cases were dismissed, including one against Radaza.
Other than Radaza, the Sandiganbayan also cleared Robert Lala, Gloria Dindin, Marlina Alvizo, Pureza Fernandez, Cresencio Bagolor, Augustinito Hermoso, Luis Galang, and Restituto Diano—all former DPWH officials. Lala was the former DPWH regional director at the time the lampposts were purchased.
The Ombudsman-Visayas earlier said a comparison of the costs of the 1,800 lampposts as indicated in the Programs of Work and Estimates(POWE) prepared by Mandaue City and reflected in the importation documents showed the equipment was overpriced by nearly 10 times its actual cost. Reporter Ador Vincent Mayol