Junjun Binay loses appeal
The Sandiganbayan has denied the appeal of former Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr., for the court to set aside its order to proceed with his trial in connection with the Makati City Hall car park building.
In a 34-page resolution dated Sept. 25, the court’s Third Division affirmed its Apr. 18 finding of probable cause to try Binay for falsification and graft over procurement anomalies in the Phases IV and V of the building’s construction.
The six charges for falsification of public documents and two for violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, filed in February 2016, arose from the allegedly rigged procurement for the contracts when Binay was mayor.
The court disagreed with Binay’s argument that he did not have any discretion in the approval of the P790.93-million construction contracts because it was a mere “ministerial” function.
It maintained that as the head of procuring entity (HoPE), the mayor had the “implicit duty” to check against possible collusion or procedural violations by the bids and awards committee (BAC).
The court noted that Section 41 of the Government Procurement Reform Act gave the HoPE the right to reject any bid, declare a failure of bidding, or not award the contract in such instances.
Binay had interpreted the said provision to mean the HoPE was not “explicitly commanded” to ascertain the BAC’s compliance with regulations.
“The determination of these details certainly does not entail a mere ministerial duty on the part of the HoPE,” the ruling read.
The court also rejected Binay’s contention that the BAC has “independence” from the HoPE.
Although Section 11 of the procurement law mandated that the approving authority should not be a member of the BAC, the court said this was meant to prevent any conflict of interest and precisely to monitor against irregularities.
Meanwhile, the court found the other arguments raised in the appeals filed by Binay and eight other city officials to be mere rehashes of their motions for judicial determination of probable cause last year.
It reiterated that, based on its evaluation of the Ombudsman’s documents, “there are sufficient bases to hold the accused-movants for trial in connection with the alleged commission of the crimes.”
The officials insisted they did not perform any act to warrant their indictment and had no role or knowledge of the alleged conspiracy.
The court said in April that it was inclined to believe that the bid invitations had been falsified to conceal the alleged mock bidding.
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