Ex-PNR exec convicted of graft for anomalous purchase of rail fastenings
MANILA, Philippines — A former official of the Philippine National Railways (PNR) was convicted of graft for facilitating the anomalous purchase of rail fastenings and other various rail items.
In a decision dated January 22, ex-PNR general manager Manuel Andal was found liable by the Sandiganbayan’s Fourth Division of violating Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti Graft and Corrupt Practices Act when he entered into a contract with two companies without prior approval from the then secretary of the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC).
According to the anti-graft court, Andal violated procurement laws after he authorized the procurement of 170,000 sets of rail fastenings and 50,000 clips and insulators from Pandrol Korea, and 50,000 sets of anti-vandal concrete sleepers from Nikka Trading, both in 2009.
Andal was found guilty for two counts of graft: one for procuring the items from Pandrol Korea while disregarding procurement processes, and another for purchasing similar items from Nikka Trading.
In his defense, Andal told the Sandiganbayan that he should not be held liable for graft because the decision to enter into direct contracting was based on a PNR Board Resolution.
But the Sandiganbayan said the option to enter into direct contracting requires the permission of the DOTC secretary, which Andal did not get.
“Accused Andal’s argument that Executive Order (E.O.) No. 423 does not require him to obtain a certification from the DOTC Secretary before signing the contract with Pandrol — nor does it prohibit him from signing the contract without the said Certification — has no merit,” the Fourth Division’s decision, penned by Associate Justice Bayani Jacinto, said.
The anti-graft court also noted that Andal cannot claim that he cannot use a previous PNR Board Resolution authorizing him to enter into a contract with Nikka Trading, because the resolution was authored after a September 2009 meeting, and the contract was entered a month before.
“The evidence plainly shows that accused Andal entered into the supply contract with Nikka Trading on 12 August 2009, while the PNR Board of Directors met on 10 September 2009 and issued Resolution 52-2009 on said date. Hence, it is clear that accused Andal, as in SB-18-CRM-0511, entered into the said contract despite the lack of authority to do so,” the Sandiganbayan said.
“Parenthetically, it did not escape the Court’s notice that accused had omitted such dates in his Memorandum, giving the semblance that he had authority to enter into the contract with Nikka Trading,” the Sandiganbayan said.
The anti-graft court ruled that Andal’s actions showed evident bad faith, manifest partiality, and gross inexcusable negligence which meant that he disadvantaged the government and gave benefits to a particular party.
With the decision, Andal will serve eight years and one month to 12 years in jail for each count of graft, while being disqualified from holding public office.
Aside from that, he is also ordered to indemnify the government the amount of P86.50 million, or the contract price that PNR had entered into.