MANILA – The Sandiganbayan anti-graft court has convicted a former mayor in Biliran province and 12 others for graft over the alleged anomalous purchase of PHP8 million worth of medicines and medical supplies in 2010.

Sentenced to up to 10 years imprisonment were Noel Abelda, former Maripipi mayor; municipal health officer Mary Grace Llever; and Bids and Awards Committee members Wilma Elairon, Marietta Campollo, Tito Cairo, Julio Cairo Jr., Sonia Alavera, Amelia Bacolod and Sergio Mejarito; municipal accountant Michell Quinte; and state auditor Genelito Balila. 

Likewise convicted were Jerome Capuyan and Cherel Serato of private supplier Suremeds Marketing.

"(B)y the dubious actions of the accused public officials, the procurement process was railroaded in order to give Suremeds unwarranted benefits, advantage and preference," read the 125-page decision dated Jan. 24 and made public Monday.

The Ombudsman filed the charges for violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, which provides that “causing any undue injury to any party, including the Government, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official, administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence” shall constitute corrupt practices of any public officer.

The Ombudsman said the respondents "altered the deadline of the submission and opening of bids without required notice/posting" and "approved the payment of the medicines" without the signatures of officials who would accept the supply. (PNA)