La Union mayor, 8 others meted 40 years for graft

TUBAO, La Union – Mayor Dante Garcia of this town and seven other individuals were meted each 40 years imprisonment after they were found guilty beyond reasonable doubt by the Sandiganbayan for violating Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices for alleged anomalies in the purchases of fogging chemicals in 2005 and 2006.
Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang, presiding officer of Sandiganbayan First Division, signed the decision promulgated on February 9, 2018 in Quezon City.
“In the service of their sentences, the duration of the total imprisonment of each of the accused shall not exceed 40 years,” the ruling stated as written by Associate Justice Geraldine Faith Econg concurred by Associate Justices Efren De La Cruz and Edgardo Caldona.
The case against Garcia, along with his co-accused Rosemary Magwa, Dominador Aquino, Rosita Palaroan, Domingo Estoesta, Clarita Gaburian, Gina Collado, all members of the town’s bids and award committee, and chemical supplier Roger Crisostomo, stemmed from nine alleged anomalous transactions in the purchase of fogging chemicals.
Based on records, the purchases of the chemicals were made on Aug. 19 and 30, Sept. 15, and Nov. 10 in 2005 and on June 1July 12 (two purchases), July 19, and July 27 in 2006.
The ruling said each violation of the nine irregular transactions has a penalty of six years to 15 years imprisonment and perpetual disqualification from public office.
Then former Tubao Vice Mayor Lauro Gayo filed the case against the accused at the Office of the Ombudsman but the latter was gunned down in 2012 inside his Law Office in Agoo, La Union.
Garcia and his co-accused said they will file motion for reconsideration because they sensed alleged loopholes in the decision.
Garcia’s counsel, Lawyer Vicente Ching, told that there is a conflict in the Sandigan ruling because it ruled on a different issue and not on the matter raised by the Ombudsman.
Ching said the issues being argued on the case are ‘overpricing and shopping.’
“The Ombudsman already decided that shopping is legal and that the overpricing issue was the one filed at the Sandiganbayan. The decision was based on shopping not on overpricing,” Ching said.
He said that the purpose of the purchases is to prevent the outbreak of dengue fever in Tubao at that time. The items (chemicals) were obtained through shopping, an alternative form of procurement permissible under Government Procurement Act.
Ching said that based on the Sandiganbayan decision, it ruled that the accused were already cleared as to the overpricing issue.
“The civil liability of the accused is not established because the amount of overprice was not clear,” reads part of the Sandigan ruling.
Ching also said that they are going to ask the Justices why the name of Samuel Padilla, the municipal treasurer and member of the bids committee, was omitted in the decision and including the acquittal of Marites Velasco, another supplier.
He said they were given 15 days to file the motion for reconsideration. Jun Elias/