Re-elected Mayor Peter Ruaya, of Dapa town, Surigao del Norte province has been sentenced to up to 8 years in prison by the Sandiganbayan for the anomalous acquisition of heavy equipment in 2008 amounting to P13.031 million.
Besides Ruaya, the antigraft court’s Special Third Division also meted out a prison term of up to eight years on Municipal Budget Officer Zosimo Melindo Cuizon and bids and awards committee (BAC) member Alicia Tokong Durero.
Apart from their jail term, the court also imposed a lifetime ban on the three officials from working in the government for violating the Anti-graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
Their graft charge stemmed from the municipal government’s purchase in February 2008 of several heavy equipment including four units of dump trucks, a payloader, a bulldozer and a grader from the supplier, 6-R Mercantile.
In a 33-page ruling, the court said prosecutors from the Office of the Ombudsman, who filed the case in 2011were able to prove that Ruaya, Cuizon and Durero were guilty beyond reasonable doubt for the purchase of heavy equipment which was not included in the approved Annual Procurement Plan of Dapa and done without the benefit of a competitive bidding.
“We find that the prosecution was able to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the subject heavy equipment delivered by 6-R Mercantile to the Municipality of Dapa prior to the bidding process showed that the latter already pre-determined/selected the supplier…without the benefit of a competitive bidding,” the decision promulgated on August 29, read.
According to the court, the accused “have acted together with manifest partiality and gross inexcusable negligence in the conduct of an irregular bidding process and by pre-determining the supplier for the heavy equipment prior to the bidding process, thereby giving unwarranted benefit, advantage and preference to the supplier, 6-R Mercantile.”
It also noted, the delivery of the equipment prior to the start of the procurement process is an indication that there was no competitive bidding held for transaction.
“In fact, it was only the supplier 6-R Mercantile, who was invited by the Municipality of Dapa to present its heavy equipment, as there was neither proof of any invitation to other suppliers nor was the invitation published in a newspaper,” the court said.
Six other respondents in the case, former municipal councilors Henry Tiu, Kenneth Joel Tiu, Francisco Gonzales, Dionisio Ruaya, Renz Jerald Ruaya and Simfroso Ranza Jr. were acquitted due to the prosecution’s failure to prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt. By CLC