By Czarina Nicole Ong
Former Butuan City Mayor Ferdinand M. Amante Jr. has been charged with graft before the Sandiganbayan Third Division due to the anomalous handling of the import duties and storage fees of a machine that was donated to the city.
In the charge sheets filed by Assistant Special Prosecutor III Jorge B. Espinal, Amante was accused of violating Section 3(e) and (g) of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
From November 2012 to June 2013, Amante gave World Medical Relief – Philippine National Business and Coordination Center, Inc. of Panabo City (WMR Panabo) unwarranted benefits when he approved the disbursements of public funds in the total amount of P15,485,084.12.
The amount was for the payment for the unit cost, import duties, transportation and storage fees of one unit 2003 Model, used Mobile Siemens Biograph Duo Positron Emission Tomography – Computerized Tomography (PET-CT).
The machine was a donation from the World Medical Relief Inc. of Michigan, USA.
Amante was faulted for failing to ensure that the machine was functional before letting it be imported to the Philippines in June 2013. Because of this, the machine had to be returned to its donor because it was non-operational and unusable.
He was also being faulted for pursuing the payment for the import duties, transportation and storage fees to WMR – Panabo even though it was manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the government.
Amante reportedly “knew fully well that the expected/computed incidental expenses of its acquisition was pegged at a lower amount of P1,512,500 only, to the prejudice of the government,” the charge sheet read.
His bail bond has been set at P60,000.