Sandigan OKs trial of ex-PNR execs over railroad ties made of wrong wood
The Sandiganbayan will proceed with the trial of several former officials of the Philippine National Railway who were charged with graft for buying P47.13-million worth of substandard railroad ties made from the wrong type of wood in 2013.
In two separate resolutions dated Jan. 8 and Jan. 10, the Sandiganbayan Seventh Division denied the motions to quash the charges filed by the accused citing alleged investigation delays and the failure to submit allegations that establish the offense.
The defendants were former general manager , division managers Rosendo Calleja and Abdul Aziz Pangandaman, department managers Estelito Nierva and Ruben Besmonte, attorney Neofito Perilla, assistant department manager Divina Gracia Dantes, and principal engineers Cesar Bocanog and Mario Arias.
Ombudsman prosecutors alleged that in March 2013, PNR paid for railroad ties, the boards placed underneath the tracks, that were made of larch, a Chinese type of softwood. This was despite the board resolutions and bidding documents requiring the ties be made of yakal, a Philippine hardwood species.
The Sandiganbayan found the said allegations “sufficiently stated” to constitute a case for graft that would need to be threshed out in a full-blown trial.
The court also rejected their claim that their right to the speedy disposition of their case was violated because the preliminary investigation took more than three years until the charges were filed last November.
“A mere delay in the conduct of preliminary investigation is not enough to justify the outright dismissal of these cases,” read the resolutions signed by Associate Justice Ma. Theresa Dolores C. Gomez-Estoesta, Zaldy V. Trespeses and Bayani H. Jacinto.
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