MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan has acquitted a former city mayor in Negros Occidental and 25 other officials in a graft case involving the awarding of an P18-million information technology (IT) project.
The anti-graft court said former Silay City mayor Jose Montelibano and his co-accused followed the proper procedure in awarding the contract as provided under the Government Procurement Reform Act.
The accused were acquitted of violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits public officials from giving unwarranted benefit, advantage or preference to any private party that may cause undue injury to the government.
Aside from the former and incumbent city officials, the court also cleared private respondent Julieta Cunanan, president of IT provider Systems and Plan Integrator Development Corp. (SPIDC) based in Cainta, Rizal.
The anti-graft court’s Second Division earlier dismissed the case against incumbent Mayor Mark Andrew Arthur Golez for lack of probable cause.
Filed by the Office of the Ombudsman in 2011, the case stemmed from the city government’s award of the project to the SPIDC in 2008, allegedly without public bidding.
The Sandiganbayan cited the evidence submitted by the accused, including a recommendation of the bids and awards committee to award the contract to the SPIDC as the company had the capability to supply the things needed for the project.
The court also cited the city government’s creation of a technical working group, which studied the qualifications of the SPIDC before the contract was awarded.