CA exonerates Furigay from graft case PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 28 May 2018 13:27

By ALLEN ABASTILLAS

The Court of Appeals (CA) has reversed an earlier ruling by the Office of the Ombudsman finding Lamitan Vice Mayor Roderick Furigay guilty of Grave Misconduct in relation to the 2012 KulayBato Landing Project.

The Ombudsman's decision stemmed from Furigay's participation in the KulayBato Landing Project which allegedly awarded projects and gave due advantage to entities related to the former Lamitan Mayor in the year 2012.

The CA, however, found Furigay not guilty of Grave Misconduct based on the following points.

The mere fact that petitioner (Furigay) is the approving officer of the contracts does not make him necessarily liable, based on the Arias vsSandiganbayan Doctrine.

"To sustain a conspiracy charge and to hold him liable, there should be evidence other than his mere signature or approval appearing on the voucher," the decision stated.

The two entities, HDRI and FCI complied with the notice of disallowance ordered by the Commission on Audit (COA) and refunded amounts paid despite deliveries made by the two companies.

There were photos taken of the deliveries made by the two entities despite the compliance.

The Court also applied the condonation doctrine.

"Having been re-elected prior to the abandonment of the condonation doctrine, petitioner is entitled to its application," the decision stated.

Recall that in 2012, the city of Lamitan paid P548,256 to HHH Developer and Real Estate (HDRI)  in relation to the KulayBato Landing Project and P175,000 to Furigay College (FCI) in relation to the Geographical Protection and Awareness Program of the Department of Agriculture.

On March 2016, the Field Investigation Unit of the Office of the Ombudsman in Mindanao filed a complaint-affidavit against Furigay, the members of the Bids and Awards Committee and the Acting City Accountant for Misconduct.

Accordingly, Furigay and then City Mayor Henry Furigay are siblings.  Furigay and Hegem Furigay, an incorporator of FCI are also relatives.

HDRI and FCI failed to submit affidavits of disclosure of relatives based on RA9184 but despite this, the city awarded the contract to the two companies.

The Ombudsman said that documents supporting the HDRI transaction are questionable while the claim that FCI was the only school in Basilan with a scuba diving course is not substantiated.

Even before the supposed two biddings on the projects had failed, the supply contract had already been awarded to HDRI.  In this connection, it was found out that HDRI was not the only supplier of riversand in Lamitan City.

The Ombudsman said that the choice of suppliers should have been supported with evidence to protect them against the misimpression of impropriety.

The Ombudsman found Furigay guilty of Grave Misconduct while his co-respondents, the members of the Bids and Awards Committee and the Acting City Accountant, were found guilty of simple misconduct. (Allen Abastillas)