SandiganBayan junks graft case vs 13 DA employees PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 16 March 2011 16:37

The SandiganBayan’s third division on March 3, 2011 dismissed a graft and corruption case filed against 13 employees of the Department of Agriculture regional office-9 and two proprietors of firms dealing in agricultural supply.

The dismissal of the case contains in a 27-page decision signed by Associate Justices Alex Quiroz, Francisco Villaruz Jr., and Samuel Martires (Chair). The certification of the decision was signed by SandiganBayan acting Presiding Justice Gregory Ong.

Atty. Emanuel Opay, lawyer of the defendants, said that aside from the criminal cases that were dismissed, the SandiganBayan also ordered the cancellation of the Hold Departure Order issued against his clients.

The case stemmed from the purchase of garden tools and vegetables seeds.
For criminal case number 27495, Miralam Tillah, Jr., former regional director, Sheik Farouk Bagis, Abundio Benardo, Jr., Fernando Godinez, Salvador Peñaflor, Edgardo Tabal, Danilo Nazario, Jovita Jacaria, Angelina Domingo, Carmen Arceo, Rabia Albani, Antonio Lim, Hirohito Manzanaris, all employees of the Department of Agriculture, Regional Field Unit, were charged for allegedly taking advantage of their positions and allegedly committed the said offense “in conspiracy with one another and accused private individual Arsenio Go, proprietor of Evergreen Enterprises and allowed the company to win in a simulated public bidding by making it appear that Pacifica Agrivet Supplies, Inc., submitted a price quotation higher than Evergreen Enterprises, when in truth and in fact Pacifica Agrivet Supplies, Inc., did not participate in the bidding and as a result thereof, the government sustained a loss or damage in the form of over pricing in the amount of P313,500 representing the difference between the winning bid of Evergreen Enterprises and the prevailing or actual market value of the goods and items bidded.”    The alleged anomaly took place on March 1998.

For criminal case number 27496, same respondents were charged of another alleged conspiracy with Nestor Lopez Vito Jr., proprietor of NT Agrivet and Agricultural Supply “with evident bad faith did then and there willfully, unlawfully and illegally cause and allow NT Agrivet and Agricultural Supply to win in a simulated bidding by making it appear that Pacifica Agrivet Supplies, Inc., submitted a price quotation higher than NT Agrivet and Agricultural Supply when in truth and in fact Pacifica Agrivet Supply did not participate in the bidding and as a result the government sustained a loss or damage in the form of over pricing in the amount of P129,528.15 representing the difference between the winning bid of NT Agrivet and Agricultural Supplies and the prevailing or actual market value of the gods and items bided. The alleged anomaly happened in the same month, March 1998.”

The information contained in a resolution issued by the Office of the Ombudsman Mindanao on March 5, 2002 “finding probable cause against all the accused for violation of section 3 (e) of the Republic Act 3019.”

The prosecution presented two witnesses while the 13 accused presented as witnesses of the defense.

Atty. Opay said in the arguments of the parties, accused Miralam Tillah, Jr., argued that there is no direct evidence that he acted in conspiracy with the officers and members of the BAC and the other implicated public and private persons.

Tillah did not participate in the bidding procedures and neither was he involved in the award of the supply of garden tools and fertilizers to NT Agrivet Agricultural Supply and Evergreen Enterprises,” Opay said.

Accused Antonio Lim in his memorandum argued the prosecution never mentioned his name during the trial.

Arsenio Go also argued that the prosecution witness Phoebe Taupan was not able to say that other employees of Pacifica Agrivet Supply could have not have possibly signed the request for quotation.

Angelina Domingo in her memorandum argued that her actions are merely in the performance of her duties.

In their memorandum, Sheik Farouk Bagis, Abdundio Bernardo, Fernando Godinez and Nestor Lopez Vito Jr. stated that the prosecution failed to establish their guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

Opay quoted the SandiganBayan to have stated in the ruling  that to hold a person liable under section 3(e) of the Republic Act no. 3019, the concurrence of the following elements must be established beyond reasonable doubt by the prosecution: (1) that the accused is a public officer or a private person in conspiracy with the former; (2) that the said public officer commits the prohibited acts during the performance of his or her official duties or in relation to his or her public position; (3) that he or she causes undue injury to any party, whether the government or a private party; and (4) that the public officer has acted with manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence.

“After a careful review of the facts and circumstances of this case, we (presiding Judges) are considered to dismiss the case and order the acquittal of all the accused”, the 27-decision states.
The SandiganBayan concluded by stating that the only evidence presented by the prosecution are the signatures of the accused on the bidding documents and the discrepancy in the prices of the bidded items as compared to their market value.

“As to whether or not the accused acted with evident bad faith, manifest partiality or gross inexcusable negligence, evidence is sorely lacking. Neither was there evidence showing that the accused private persons acted in conspiracy with the accused public officers. Their complicity in the alleged offense was not mentioned during testimonial evidence,” it said. — Dan Toribio Jr.