Ex-Nueva Ecija mayor cleared of graft
MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan has acquitted former Lupao, Nueva Ecija Mayor Richard Ramos of graft charges after he allegedly ordered the procurement of petroleum products for the municipality without competitive public bidding.
In a 35-page decision dated April 30, the antigraft court’s Sixth Division cleared the municipality chief of violating Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
The provision states that “Causing any undue injury to any party, including the Government, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence” are among those considered an act of corruption.
The court said the prosecution failed to prove without reasonable doubt that Ramos violated the provision.
While the court stressed the importance of public bidding and pointed out that Ramos violated the law when he “circumvented the mandatory requirement of competitive public bidding,” it said the prosecution failed to prove that the mayor caused undue injury to the government or any party, or that he gave unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference to SRS Gas Refilling Station or its owner Shiela Jacalan.
“… (T)he government cannot be said to be at a disadvantage considering that the purchases were made on credit to the benefit of the Municipality of Lupao,” the decision noted.
The court also struck down the claim that Ramos acted with manifest partiality, evident bad faith, or gross inexcusable negligence.
Associate Justice Kevin Vivero penned the ruling, while Associate Justices Sarah Fernandez and Karl Miranda concurred. /je
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