2 Iloilo ex-officials face up to 8 years in jail | Inquirer News
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2 Iloilo ex-officials face up to 8 years in jail

/ 04:16 AM October 12, 2020

ILOILO CITY, Iloilo, Philippines —The Sandiganbayan has found two former officials of the Iloilo provincial government guilty of graft over the purchase of a laptop computer worth P99,000.

In a decision promulgated on Oct. 2, the seventh division of the antigraft court sentenced former provincial administrator and blogger Manuel Mejorada and former general services office head Ramie Salcedo to jail terms of at least six years and one month up to eight years for violating Republic Act No. 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

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Mejorada, in a statement posted on his Facebook page, said he would file a motion for reconsideration.

The Sandiganbayan decision stemmed from the purchase in 2008 of an Acer Aspire laptop valued at P99,000 for the provincial health office from Seven Seven Trading. What was delivered to and accepted by the accused was an Acer Travel Mate unit that was worth only P59,900, according to a Commission on Audit (COA) report.

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On Oct. 13, 2011, Seven Seven Trading, refunded the amount that was disallowed by the COA.

The Sandiganbayan, in its decision, said the “crux of the violation” was that the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC), chaired by Salcedo with Mejorada as a BAC member, “still considered the Seven Seven Trading as the lone and winning bidder to supply the laptop despite the latter’s ineligibility” because it was merely a middleman and not among those qualified under procurement rules.

It ruled that the accused “displayed manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence” and that the BAC should have declared a failure of and conducted a rebidding.

In good faith

Mejorada, in a statement, insisted that he acted in good faith when he signed the documents as part of his functions as provincial administrator.

He questioned why only Salcedo and him were indicted out of the six BAC members, claiming that the case against him was due to “political vindictiveness” of Sen. Franklin Drilon, an Ilonggo.

The Ombudsman has the “sole discretion in determining who to prosecute,” said the Sandiganbayan.

Mejorada also faces arrest and a jail term of two to four years after the Supreme Court last year upheld with finality his 2017 conviction for libel for his social media posts accusing Drilon of corruption.

Nestor P. Burgos Jr. 

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TAGS: graft case, Iloilo former officials, Manuel Mejorada, Sandiganbayan
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