MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan has dismissed a graft case filed against former Camarines Sur governor now Cong. Luis Raymund “L-Ray” Villafuerte Jr. in connection with the allegedly anomalous awarding of a P6.3-million security service contract.
In a 20-page resolution promulgated on March 2, the anti-graft court granted Villafuerte’s demurrer to evidence, which prayed for the dismissal of a case of violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act filed against him in 2008.
The court sided with Villafuerte’s argument that the Office of the Ombudsman failed to present sufficient evidence to prove the key element of the charged offense – that he acted with partiality or in bad faith when the provincial government awarded the contract to a private company.
Filed by the ombudsman in June 2018, the case stemmed from the awarding of a security services contract to the Tigon Security Investigation and General Services Inc. (Tigon Security) between July 2008 and December 2009.
The ombudsman said no public bidding was conducted for the project.
It said Villafuerte ordered the payment released to the company despite the supposed irregularity.
The Sandiganbayan said the lack of public bidding was insufficient to prove that Villafuerte acted in bad faith or with partiality in favor of the Tigon Security.
The court gave weight to Villafuerte’s defense that the company had been providing security services to the provincial government even before he assumed as governor in 2004.
The resolution was penned by Associate Justice Alex Quiroz and concurred in by Associate Justices Lorifel Pahimna, Michael Frederick Musngi and Bernelito Fernandez.