Ex-NegOr city mayor cleared of graft

By Perfecto Raymundo, Jr.

March 1, 2019, 1:34 pm

MANILA -- The Sandiganbayan has cleared of graft charges a former city mayor in Negros Oriental in connection with the procurement of construction materials for repair of covered canals without public bidding in 2011.

The Sandiganbayan 1st Division, in a decision dated Feb. 22, 2019, acquitted Lawrence Teves of Tanjay City of graft charges after the prosecution failed to establish the former mayor's participation in the alleged illegal procurement.

“It was the City Engineer's Office which prepared the program of works for the repair on which the materials as listed in the purchase request were based,” the court ruled.

“It appears clear that the guilt of the accused for the crime charged has not been established beyond reasonable doubt. In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved. Hence, he is entitled to acquittal as a matter of course,” it added.

Court records showed that Teves, Tanjay City Liga ng mga Barangay president Denver Bokingkito, Sangguniang Kabataan Federation president Mar Francis Saguran and city general services officer Bogard Colina were charged with graft in June 2011 for the procurement of PHP280,876.34 worth of construction materials from Megatrend Enterprises (Megatrend) for the repair of covered canals in Barangays 5 and 6, without public bidding.

It also showed that despite the absence of the Bids and Awards Committee resolution justifying the use of alternative mode of procurement required under Republic Act No. 9184, or the “Government Procurement Reform Act”, the officials gave the contract to Megatrend.

When arraigned on Aug. 25, 2017, Teves, Bokingkito and Colina pleaded “not guilty”. Saguran was arraigned on Sept. 22, 2017 and refused to enter any plea, which prompted the court to enter a “not guilty” plea for him.

On Jan. 24, 2018, the court granted the motion of Bokingkito and Colina to plead to a lesser offense.

The court also granted Saguran’s motion, withdrawing the case against him. (PNA)