Arraignment of ex-Iloilo gov on graft case reset to January 2016 | Inquirer News

Arraignment of ex-Iloilo gov on graft case reset to January 2016

/ 07:09 PM November 13, 2015

The Sandiganbayan has approved the request of former Iloilo governor Niel Tupas Sr.  to defer anew his arraignment for graft because of his heart ailment.

In his motion to suspend, Tupas asked the antigraft court Fifth Division on Thursday to defer his scheduled arraignment on Nov. 12 because he is confined at the Intensive Care Unit of the Philippine Heart Center.

His previous scheduled arraignment on Oct. 21 was cancelled because he was unfit to travel to Manila. Tupas then had just been discharged from St. Paul’s Hospital in Iloilo City.


“Petitioner, through counsel, once again begs the indulgence of the Honorable Sandiganbayan and request that the arraignment be held in abeyance considering that the accused Tupas is still presently confined at the Intensive Care Unit of the Philippine Heart Center and is deemed unfit to appear in court,” Tupas said in his motion.


The antigraft court reset his arraignment on Jan. 18, 2016.It is respectfully requested that the arraignment … be reset until the medical condition of the accused becomes better,” he added.

Attached to the motion is a medical certificate written by Dr. Luis Go that Tupas, 82, was admitted at the Philippine Heart Center. “His present condition prevents him from attending court hearings for the time being (from Nov. to Dec. 2015),” the doctor said.

The antigraft court reset his arraignment on Jan. 18, 2016.

Tupas faces a graft charge in connection with the overpayment of unconsumed electricity worth P4 million to Green Core Geothermal, Inc. (Green Core).

The Ombudsman filed the graft charge against Tupas Sr., provincial accountant Lyd Tupas, assistant accounting department head Sandra Bionat, and department head of general services Ramie Salcedo before the antigraft court.

In its graft charge sheet, the Ombudsman accused Tupas and his staff for causing undue injury to government by paying P4.007 million in unconsumed electricity bill of the Iloilo Provincial Government to Green Core Geothermal Inc. from December 2009 to April 2010


“(They conspired) with one another, while in the performance of their official functions, acting with manifest partiality, evident bad faith, or gross inexcusable negligence, (by) willfully, unlawfully and criminally (giving) unwarranted benefit, advantage or preference to Green Core Geothermal Inc.,” the Ombudsman said.

Tupas Sr. is the father of incumbent Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr.

In its indictment, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said Tupas is liable for violating the anti-graft law due to alleged irregularities in the deal with the National Power Corporation, later assumed by Green Core, for the bulk supply of electricity from 2007 to 2011.

READ: Iloilo ex-gov Niel Tupas Sr. indicted over electricity deal 

The deal was made in anticipation of the Iloilo Multi-Purpose Convention Center, for which the supply contract provided for an increase in contracted energy to 400,000kWh/month from 185,000kWh/month.

Due to the non-construction of the building back in 2009, Tupas requested to adjust the energy contract to 17,000 kwh/month.

Green Core then applied the adjustment for the period covering June 2010 to December 2011.

Green Core was paid the amount representing 1,084,814.50 kWh even if the actual energy consumption in Iloilo was only 515,180.50kWh.

This means the province paid P5.88 million though the actual consumption was at P1.88 million, resulting in an overpayment of P4 million covering the billing period December 2009 to April 2010.

Because of this, the Commission on Audit issued a notice of disallowance to the Iloilo government.

Ombudsman Morales said the “respondents cannot sweepingly claim that they merely certified the disbursement documents to be valid, proper and legal, because if they really perused those documents they would have found the questionable nature of an electric billing that was unconsumed.”

Meanwhile, the other accused Lyd Tupas, Bionat and Salcedo all pleaded not guilty to the charge during their scheduled arraignment on Thursday.

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TAGS: arraignment, Graft, Iloilo, Regions, Sandiganbayan

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