Ex-Tuguegarao mayor Ting acquitted of graft over market demolition
MANILA — The Sandiganbayan has acquitted former Tuguegarao City mayor Delfin Ting of graft in connection with the demolition of the city’s market to make way for its upgrade.
In a 22-page decision, the anti-graft court’s Special Second Division cleared Ting of the charge for violating Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
It said prosecutors failed to prove that Ting ordered the demolition of the Tuguegarao City Central Market in 2008 without authorization by the Sangguniang Panlungsod (City Council).
Prosecutors accused Ting of ordering the demolition of the market, which had a book value of P23.95 million, even as the city council’s resolution only approved the upgrading of the market and not its “total destruction.”
But, the court said, prosecutors only presented “its interpretation and reliance to the wordings of the resolution that what was authorized is a mere upgrading.”
“The prosecution… failed to present any corroborating evidence that the Sangguniang Panlungsod in approving the upgrading project did not really intend for the demolition of the old market building,” the decision read.
The court said there was no manifest partiality, evident bad faith, or gross inexcusable negligence on the part of Ting when he implemented the city council resolution.
It “can be reasonably concluded” that the city council’s approval also allowed the demolition of the old two-story market, since they were aware of the project design for a three-story building with a basement, the court said.
“The demolition of the old market is indispensable in the implementation of the upgrading project. The approved building design for the upgrade cannot be done without totally tearing down the old market,” the decision read.
The court also disregarded the testimony of the complainant, civil engineer Robert Guzman, who claimed that the demolition of the market wasted public funds and was meant to benefit the nearby hotels owned by Ting.
It said it did not find Guzman’s testimony credible because he “did not even bother” to inquire about the project details or make a finding that the market could be upgraded into a three-story building with a basement without tearing down the existing structure.
The court added that the Commission on Audit did not make any adverse findings or disallowances regarding the funds used for the market project.
Justice Samuel Martires penned the decision, with the concurrence of Justices Michael Frederick Musngi and Geraldine Faith Econg. SFM
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