Sandiganbayan convicts 11 ex-town officials of Catanduanes for graft

Provincial

VIRAC, Catanduanes — The Sandiganbayan has sentenced a former mayor, vice mayor, and nine municipal council members of Viga town in Catanduanes to up to 10 years in jail over irregularities in the procurement of a backhoe loader worth more than P13 million in 2005.

In a 48-page decision dated October 9, Sandiganbayan  Associate Justice Ronald B. Moreno, found former Viga municipal mayor Jose D. Torres guilty of violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (RA 3019).

Sentenced with him were then vice mayor Yolando B. Tuquero and Sangguniang Bayan Kagawads Lourdes A. del Rosario, Asuncion L. Odi, Rosario T. Mollasgo, Horacio T. Aquino Jr., Domingo C. Villanueva, Orbel T. Tonio, William T. Tuplano, and Gomercindo T. Litong.

The anti-graft court also issued an arrest warrant for Kagawad Nerissa B. Usero, who remains at large.

“Indubitably, all the accused jointly expedited an irregular and illegal procurement of JCB 4CCX 4x4x4 backhoe loader with undue preference for Camec as supplier with no valid justification whatsoever,” the court said.

The accused “offered no sufficient justification why it resorted to direct contracting, an alternative method of procurement, instead of the default, which is through competitive public bidding,” it added.

Sandiganbayan Associate Justices Amparo M. Cabotaje-Tang and Bernelito R. Fernandez concurred with the decision.

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