Sandigan junks plea of ex-Batangas lawmaker to dismiss graft case
MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan has denied the request of former 4th District Batangas Rep. Oscar Gozos to dismiss the graft case against him which stemmed from the alleged anomalous purchase of farm equipment in 2004.
In a resolution dated March 12, the Sandiganbayan Second Division answered the demurrer to evidence filed by Gozos and nine other co-accused in the case, saying that the evidence presented is enough to continue hearing the case.
“After a careful evaluation of the testimonial and documentary evidence presented by the prosecution, the Court is convinced that the same, if unrebutted, is sufficient to sustain the indictment of the accused,” the resolution penned by Associate Justice Lorifel Pahimna said.
Gozos allegedly violated Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act when he supposedly conspired with officials from the Department of Agriculture (DA) Regional Field Unit IV (RFU-IV) including its former Executive Director Dennis Araullo in buying four units of Tornado Shredder Chipper from LCV Design and Fabrication Corporation worth P3 million.
The purchase was made directly without any public bidding.
Gozos’ camp claimed that the prosecution failed to prove his guilt, including allegations that he conspired with the other officials, and that his acts were criminal in nature.
“Accused Gozos claimed that there is no evidence that he conspired with the other accused to commit the crime charged,” the anti-graft court relayed.
“According to him, even though he made the request, signed the purchase order as a requisitioning party, and his office received the equipment the DA purchased for his 4th Congressional District, his acts were not tinged with criminality and they were performed by him in accordance with the law and the rules,” they added.
However, the court noted that the documentary evidence presented includes a Commission on Audit (COA) Audit Observation Memorandum which states that DA’s RFU-IV purchased 14 units from LCV through direct contracting.
The Sandiganbayan also claimed that the collective purchase of equipment from LCV gave unwarranted benefits to the corporation, and disadvantaged government because of its failure to acquire assets at a much lower price.
“It is elementary that public bidding is the established procedure in the grant of government contracts,” Sandiganbayan said.
“The act of purchasing the subject Tornado Shedder Chippers without the requisite public bidding and/or without justification in resorting to direct contracting displays manifest partiality, evident bad faith, and inexcusable negligence,” the court explained. /muf
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