OMBUDS JUNKS MOTIONS FOR RECONSIDERATION
The ghost of heavy equipment purchases worth more than P160 million made by late governor Erico B. Aumentado in 2006 and in 2009 continues to haunt retired and incumbent officials of the province, but this time more names are being dragged into the case.
This came after the Office of the Ombudsman Manila denied the consolidated motions for reconsideration filed by several former and incumbent officials of Bohol attacking an earlier decision rendered by the anti-graft body on November 24, 2015.
In an order penned by Graft Investigator and Prosecution Officer Eleanor Tayad-de Mira, copy of which was obtained by The Bohol Tribune yesterday, the Ombudsman said that the “Motion for Reconsideration of respondents: Godofreda O. Tirol and Amalia R. Tirol dated January 11, 2017; Frances Bobbith Cajes-Auza and Jane Censoria R. Cajes-Yap dated January 9, 2017; Handel T. Lagunay, Abraham Clarin, Laura Saramosing-Boloyos and Felix Mejorada dated January 5, 2017; Greta Mende dated January 9, 2017; Concepcion Lim, Dionisio D. Balite, Jose E. Veloso, Felix R. Uy, Cesar Tomas M. Lopez, Alfonso R. Damalerio II, and Aster Apalisok-Piollo dated January 6, 2017; and Ester Corazon J. Galbreath dated January 12, 2017, are DENIED and the Resolution of November 24, 2015 STANDS.”
The case stemmed from two Resolutions passed by members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) in 2006 and in 2009 authorizing then Governor Aumentado in the purchase of several heavy equipment units using a letter of credit.
Although current government rules see no wrong in the purchase of materials or goods using a letter of credit from a government office or entity, previous lawshad prohibited such mode of payment.
And a decade-old SP Resolution innocently and in good faith passed by former SP members in support of ex-Gov. Aumentado’s development efforts became the root cause for all the legal trouble.
Earlier, the Ombudsman ordered a 9-month suspension to Vice-Gov. Balite and several other officials of the province due to the said resolution. Balite, however, had secured a 60-day temporary restraining order (TRO) and has resumed his duty as Bohol’s vice-governor.
Meanwhile, the November 24, 2015 resolution of the Ombudsman had stated the following rulings:
“Wherefore, finding probable cause to indict respondents Dionisio B. Balite, Jose E. Veloso, Felix R. Uy, Concepcion O. Lim, Amalia R. Tirol, Ester Corazon J. Galbreath, Godofreda O. Tirol, Ma. Fe Camacho-Lejos, Brigido Z. Imboy, Frances Bobbith Cajes-Auza, Handel T. Lagunay, Edwin M. Mejorada, Greta A. Mende and Abraham D. Clarin for Violation of Section 3 (e) of RA No. 3019, as amended, in relation to the procurement of one unit backhoe with breaker in 2006, let the Information be filed with the proper court. The charge, however, for Violation of Section 3 (g) of RA No. 3019, as amended, against the same respondents in relation to the 2006 procurement is DISMISSED.”
“Finding probable cause to indict respondents Julius Caesar F. Herrera, Cesar Tomas M. Lopez, Amalia R. Tirol, Ester Corazon J. Galbreath, Alfonso R. Damalerio II, Ma. Fe Camacho-Lejos, Josil E. Trabajo, Aster Apalisok-Piollo, Brigido Z. Imboy and Jane Censoria R. Cajes-Yap for Violation of Section 3 (e) of RA 3019, as amended, in relation to the procurement of heavy equipment in 2009, let the Information be filed with the proper court. The charge for Violation of Section 3 (g) of RA No. 3019, as amended, against the same respondents in relation to the 2009 procurement is DISMISSED.”
“For lack of probable cause, the charges for Violations of Section 3 (e) and (g) of RA No. 3019, as amended, against respondents Rosalinda B. Yu, Laura Saramosing-Boloyos, Felix M. Mejorada, Greg Julius D. Sodusta V, Reynard D. Namocatcat, Abraham D. Clarin and Edwin T. Vallejos in relation to the procurement of heavy equipment in 2009, are DISMISSED.”
“For lack of probable cause, the charges for Violations of Section 3 (e) and (g) of RA No. 3019, as amended, against respondents Rosalinda B. Yu, Laura Saramosing-Boloyos, Felix M. Mejorada, Greg Julius D. Sodusta V, Reynard D. Namocatcat, Abraham D. Clarin, Edwin T. Vallejos, Julius Caesar F. Herrera, Cesar Tomas M. Lopez, Amalia R. Tirol, Ester Corazon J. Galbreath, Alfonso R. Damalerio II, Ma. Fe Camacho-Lejos, Josil E. Trabajo, Aster Apalisok-Piollo, Brigido Z. Imboy, and Jane Censoria R. Cajes-Yap in relation to the alleged failure to collect or impose liquidated damages in the total amount of P23,400,750, are DISMISSED.”
For G. Tirol and A. Tirol, they told the Ombudsman in their motion for reconsideration that bad faith, per se, if not evident, is not enough to indict them for the offense charged.
Respondents Cajes-Auza and Cajes-Yap reasoned out that during the passage of said SP resolutions, they had just passed the age of majority. “They are also part of the youth of today who need the state’s prosecution against unnecessary judicial proceedings,” Ombudsman document showed.
On the other hand, in their joint motions for reconsideration, respondents Lagunay, Clarin, Saramosing-Boloyos and Mejorada alleged that their act as members of the 2006 BAC (bids and awards committee) in accepting the bid offer of Civic Merchandising, Inc. (CMI) with Letter of Credit (LC) as mode of payment was not done through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence. The same line of argument was used by Mende in her motion for reconsideration.
For Lim, Balite, Veloso, Uy, Lopez, Damalerio, and Apalisok-Piollo, they pointed out that Memorandum Order No. 213, series of 2006 should be given retroactive effect, “thus they should be exonerated from any criminal liability.”
They claimed that it was not sufficiently established that they acted with gross inexcusable negligence amounting to bad faith when they passed SP Resolution No. 2009-226, according to Ombudsman documents.
Respondent Galbreath used the same line of defense in her motion for reconsideration.
“Basically, respondents’ Motion for Reconsideration are grounded on their claim that they acted in good faith; that they did not act with manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence amounting to bad faith; and that no undue injury was actually caused to the government,” the Ombudsman’s order said.
In denying the joint motions for reconsideration, the Ombudsman ruled that “the existence of probable cause was judiciously passed upon by the Office.”
“Further, respondents did not present any newly discovered evidence which could materially affect the Office’s Resolution,” the anti-graft body said in its order. “The Office likewise did not commit grave errors of facts or laws or serious irregularities prejudicial to the interest of respondents.”
The Ombudsman noted that respondents’ claim of good faith is “evidentiary in nature.”
“As it is a matter of defense, the same can be best passed upon after a full-blown trial on the merits,” the Ombudsman said.
The anti-graft body concluded that “all other allegations of respondents in their respective Motions for Reconsideration are rehash of what they had been contending in their counter-affidavits and other pleading(s), and which had already been substantially considered by the Office.” (Ligalig Mike Ortega)