10 Romblon town execs convicted of graft

MANILA — The anti-graft court has convicted a former Romblon town mayor and nine members of the Sangguniang Bayan (SB) of graft charges after authorizing the purchase of a backhoe loader without undergoing the required bidding procedure.

The Sandiganbayan found former Romblon, Romblon Mayor Leo Merida, and SB members Melben Mesana, Gerry Mijares, Mariano Mateo, Francisco Mayor Jr., Chris Mazo, Ramon Magallon, Edler Robis, Rafael Riano, and Bryant Riano guilty of violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019, or the “Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.”

They were sentenced to serve a six-year jail term each and were perpetually disqualified from holding public office.

Records showed that on Nov. 9, 2005, the SB passed Resolution No. ‎‎137-2005 authorizing Merida to apply for a PHP13.95-million loan with the Philippine National Bank for the purchase of a brand new backhoe loader from supplier, Compressed Air Machineries and Equipment Corp.

The local officials said the equipment was necessary for the rehabilitation and conversion of its open dumpsites to controlled dumpsites.

However, upon investigation, it was found that the procurement did not undergo the process required under RA 9184, or the “Government Procurement Reform Act,” as the acquisition was not referred to the Bids and Awards Committee.

On Dec. 28, 2005, the municipality issued a check for the payment of the equipment, but it was only on Sept. 13, 2006 that the backhoe was delivered.

Witnesses testified in court that the municipality has yet to operate a sanitary landfill and that the backhoe was not used for what it was purchased for. PNA-northboundasia.com