TUGUEGARAO CITY—Mayor Jefferson Soriano said he has not been suspended, after posting P30,000 bail at the Sandiganbayan for his role in the allegedly irregular purchase of rubber boats and motor engines by the Philippine National Police in 2008.
Soriano was among the former PNP officials who were accused of graft for the purchase during the term of retired PNP Director General Jesus Versoza.
But the mayor said surrendering to the court did not automatically place him under suspension, after word spread that he was leaving City Hall this week.
“I am not suspended. It just so happens that I am on official business [and will be out of town to attend] a seminar this week,” he said.
Soriano, who defeated former Mayor Delfin Ting in the May midterm elections, said he learned from friends that an arrest warrant had been issued against him.
“So I immediately gave myself up to the Sandiganbayan and posted bail so that I can attend a local governance leadership training course sponsored by the city mayors’ league,” he said.
Soriano, a retired PNP deputy director general, chaired the PNP bids and awards committee in 2008, when the allegedly irregular purchase of 75 rubber boats and 18 spare engines for the PNP Maritime Group under the capability enhancement program funds happened.
Versoza, Soriano and 15 other police officials were charged with graft, along with two civilian employees and three government suppliers, for the negotiated purchase of the boats and spare engines that bore “defects and functional incompatibility.”
Soriano said 41 rubber boats delivered by Geneve SA Philippines could not be fitted with the 60-horsepower engines supplied by Enviro-Aire.
But the purchase went through channels and followed regulations, he said, adding that the transaction helped the government save P57 million.
“We are law-abiding citizens and we live in a democratic country, so we [are submitting ourselves to the] process [and] the investigation,” Soriano told the Inquirer by telephone. Villamor Visaya Jr., Inquirer Northern Luzon