TEN former officials of Mountain Province, including the late former governor Maximo Dalog Sr., and a sitting Benguet councilor have been found guilty of graft and corruption related to the 2006 purchase of a vehicle surrounded by irregularities in the procurement process.
Theodore Marrero, former provincial accountant; provincial health officer Nenita Lizardo; provincial nurse Helen Macli-ing; Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) chairperson Paulo Pagteilan; BAC vice chairperson Lily Rose Kollin; BAC members Florence Gut-omen, Edward Likigan, and Soledad Theresa Wanawan; Budget Officer II Jerome Falingao; Executive Assistant and BAC Secretariat Abdon Imingan; Technical and Inspection Group member Abelard Pachingel; and then-private defendant and now-Buguias, Benguet Councilor Ronaldo Kimakim, were sentenced by the Sandiganbayan Third Division to a prison term of six to eight years.
In a decision promulgated on March 28, the Sandiganbayan found the 11 officials guilty and perpetually disqualified from any government position and subsequent benefits. However, Kimakim, who is now a councilor in Buguias, Benguet, has not been meted out the penalty of perpetual disqualification from public office and the benefits earned through such service, which was doled out to the 10 other officials.
According to the 64-page ruling penned by Associate Justice Ronald Moreno and concurred by Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje Tang and Associate Justice Bernelito Fernandez, the case for the 11 accused stemmed from a private individual requesting the National Bureau of Investigation-Cordillera Administrative Region (NBI-CAR) to investigate the anomalous purchase of a Mitsubishi L-300 Versa van conducted by the Mt. Province government.
The investigation found that the officials purchased the van from then-private individual Kimakim for nearly P90,000 more than market price, with Kimakim receiving a P10,000 commission for his services.
“The 11 former officials and Kimakim participated in the criminal offense by specifying a vehicle brand and model, which gave unwarranted advantage to the supplier, in violation of RA 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act,” the decision read.
All officials pleaded not guilty, except for the deceased Dalog, but the investigations of the NBI-CAR led to the anti-graft court concluding that all respondents were guilty beyond reasonable doubt.
“The prosecution was able to prove beyond reasonable doubt, that accused Marrero, Lizardo, Macli-ing, Pagteilan, Kollin, Gut-omen, Likigan, Wanawan, Falingao, Imingan, and Pachingel conspired with one another, causing undue injury to the government and giving unwarranted benefit, advantage, and preference to accused Kimakim, through manifest partiality and evident bad faith. Consequently, these co-principals are adjudged guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019, as amended,” the decision read.