Graft court convicts ex-mayor, 2 others

THE Sandiganbayan’s Special Second Division has convicted a  former mayor of Camalig, Albay and three other town officials for graft over an anomalous contract for the repair and maintenance of the municipality’s service vehicles.

In a 23-page decision, the anti-graft court found former Camalig Mayor Paz Muñoz, ex-accountant Rem Ortonio, ex-treasurer Armando Quintano and ex-engineer Rogelio Naz Jr. guilty of violation of Section 3 (e) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

The court ordered the imprisonment of the respondents for six years and one month and perpetual disqualification from holding public office.

Muñoz and his co-accused used their positions to illegally award a contract to Legazpi Tireworld Corp. after a rigged public bidding in 2003.

According to the Sandiganbayan, the contract was for the supposed repair and maintenance of the municipality’s service vehicles, a dump truck and an ambulance.

Citing the Commission on Audit findings, the court said the local officials made excessive payments to the Legazpi Tireworld Corp.

In a report, CoA said the payment made to Tireworld of P447,027.53 in just a year was exorbitant considering that there were only five vehicles involved in the contract.

The anti-graft court agreed with CoA that there were “badges of irregularity” in transactions between the local government and the company, and that the disbursement vouchers for the rehabilitation were also dated before the bidding for the contract was held.

“This would connote an absurd and highly irregular situation when the request for quotation, award and purchase order were all completed in a single day,” the order read.

“These irregularities are too numerous and blatant to be attributable to honest mistake,” Associate Justice Napoleon Inoturan said.

Associate Justices Teresita Diaz-Baldos and Oscar Herrera Jr. also penned the decision.

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