By Czarina Nicole Ong
Former Sipalay Mayor Soledad Montilla of Negros Occidental has been charged with graft before the Sandiganbayan Third Division in relation to the reportedly anomalous rehabilitation and gravelling of dike and various farm-to-market roads in the city back in 2008.
In the charge sheet filed by Assistant Special Prosecutor III Jorge B. Espinal, Montilla was accused of violating Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act alongside City Treasurer Renato Pido Manilla, City Budget Officer Fernando Rivera Balbin, City Engineer Porferio Calderon Jr., City General Services Officer Elizer Rivera Balbin, and Executive Assistant Alfredo Gulmatico Lim.
On February 29, 2008, the accused reportedly took advantage of their official positions and acted with evident bad faith and manifest partiality when they awarded the renewal of contract of lease for the rehabilitation and graveling of dike and various farm-to-market roads despite several irregularities to D.K. Jocson Construction.
This award was done despite the absence of prior authority from the city council to enter into such contract of lease, as well as the conduct of public bidding.
At the same time, the local officials decided to award the contract to D.K. Jocson despite its failure to post or file its performance bond. As a result, damage and prejudice was caused against the government.
Their bail bond has been set at P30,000 each.