Sandigan acquits ex-PSC chair in 2007 SEA Games contract anomaly | Inquirer News

Sandigan acquits ex-PSC chair in 2007 SEA Games contract anomaly

/ 05:28 PM June 16, 2016

THE Sandiganbayan has acquitted former Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chair William Ramirez of graft after finding him not liable for the anomalous contract that favored a supplier of sports equipment for cycling athletes in the 24th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in 2007.

In its decision promulgated on Thursday, the anti-graft court First Division, however, found guilty beyond reasonable doubt the members of the PSC Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) – planning officer V Cesar Pradas who was BAC chairman, and BAC members administrative officer V Simeon Rivera, planning officer III Marilou Cantancio and engineer II Eduardo Clariza.

The court also found guilty Robert Magaway and son Lawrence of the Elixir Sports Company.


The court said they were guilty of violating Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act when they conspired to give undue preference to Elixir Sports Company in the P2.329-million contract for the supply of sports equipment for cyclists in the 2007 SEA Games held in Thailand.


They were sentenced to suffer imprisonment of six to 10 years with perpetual disqualification from public office.

In its 43-page decision, the court said the prosecution failed to prove that Ramirez as PSC chairman was liable for the anomalous contract approved by the BAC.

While the prosecution claimed Ramirez should be held liable for conspiring with the BAC in favoring Elixir as bidder, the court said the panel failed to prove that the PSC chief violated the PSC Law, which listed as one of the commission’s powers the mandate to enter into contracts.

The court said Republic Act 6847 or the law that created the PSC also stipulated as the commission’s powers the mandate to delegate the authority for the performance of any function to officers and employees under its direction.

This gave credence to Ramirez’ defense that he relied on the competence of the BAC, arguing that he was merely exercising the regular ministerial functions of his office when he approved the BAC resolution awarding the contract to Elixir.

The court said Ramirez was also assured by the BAC that it complied with the publication requirements.


“Under the circumstances, the prosecution has failed to dispute the authority of accused Ramirez in performing his actions in relation to the function of his office as the chairman and head of agency of the PSC. Without any evidence to prove otherwise, accused Ramirez should benefit from the presumption that he regularly performed the function of his office,” the court said.

The situation, however, is different when it comes to the BAC members.

The court said the BAC members awarded the contract to Elixir even though it lacked the required number of years (three years) of corporate existence before entering into a transaction with the government.

The court added that the BAC also failed to comply with the requirement of publication in a national newspaper of the invitation to bid as stated under the Government Procurement Act.

The respondents made the defense that the BAC members relied on the assurance by the BAC Secretariat for the SEA Games Noel Salumbides (not charged in the case) that publication of the bid invitation in the newspaper of general circulation was no longer required for contracts with approved budget of less than P5 million.

Court records showed that the bid invitation was published in the PhilGEPS website, the PSC website, as well as on the BAC bulletin board.

Salumbides testified that he learned from a seminar a new Government Procurement Policy Board resolution supposedly removing newspaper publication for procurement as a requirement for contracts below P5 million.

The court said the respondents committed gross negligence when they believed the erroneous claim of Salumbides.

The lack of publication could also explain why Elixir was the only bidder in the contract.

“To explain the lack of publication, the accused members of the PSC-BAC tried to pass the blame on the BAC Secretariat, which however only served to highlight their own gross inexcusable negligence in handling the procurement process,” the court said.

In finding the Magaways guilty, the court said the owners of Elixir Sports Company “clearly enjoyed preferential treatment from PSC.”

The court said Robert Magaway admitted in his testimony to the court that he had advanced knowledge of PSC’s needs, owing to his previous transactions with the commission.

Records showed that Elixir Sports Company, known previously as Elixir Trading, transacted with the PSC in 2002, 2003 and 2005.

Elixir Trading was dissolved and later reorganized as a partnership into Elixir Sports Company in November 2006, making it less than a year old when it participated in the bidding in September 2007.

Salumbides testified that the BAC granted the contract to Elixir despite the three-year corporate existence rule because the company was already a “regular” in terms of supplying equipment to the PSC.

The court said the BAC members’ “knowing and deliberate disregard of the legal requirements in order to favor Elixir Sports Company and its owner Robert Magaway supports the charge that they acted with evident bad faith.”

The court, however, said the prosecution in its market probe failed to prove that there was injury to government in the alleged P671,200 overpriced contract.

Ramirez faces a separate graft charge with former Philippine Amusement Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) chairman Efraim Genuino over the anomalous disbursement of P37-million Pagcor funds for the training of swimmers who competed in the Olympics./ac/rga/ac


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