Sandigan junks Syjuco’s bid to quash graft case

By Czarina Nicole Ong

The Sandiganbayan Seventh Division has refused to let former Iloilo Rep. Augusto Syjuco Jr. off the hook with regards to his graft charge in relation to the reportedly anomalous P30 million deal for the contract services for the TESDA e-Portal project.

Augusto Syjuco Jr. (Michael Varcas / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO) Augusto Syjuco Jr.

His motion to quash was first denied on June 20, so he filed a motion for reconsideration.

He once again contended that the charge stemmed from the complaint filed by Annie Geron on Feb.16, 2010, so the counting of delay should reckon from the time of filing and not from the time he filed his counter-affidavit during the fact-finding investigation.

He also argued that he has no duty to follow up his case since it is up to the Ombudsman to expedite the proceedings and to promptly act on the complaint.

Syjuco also cited his illness, so he is currently undergoing therapy in Singapore. But due to the pendency of his case, his right to travel is being restricted.

However, the Sandiganbayan decided to deny Syjuco’s MR for lack of merit. “Afer a careful perusal of the arguments raised by accused, the court finds no valid reason to disturb its earlier findings. Notably, no new matters have been raised in the instant motion for reconsideration,” the resolution read. “It merely repleads the same arguments, which have been considered and passed upon.”

Syjuco, who was then the director general of Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), was accused of violating Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act together with bids and awards committee (BAC) members Teodoro Sanico, Buen Samarista Mondejar, Ernesto Beltran, Annabelle Talato Quimbo, and Guillermina Lopez Aguilar.

Prime Logic Corporation (PLC) President Jason Chua Dela Rosa and representative Emily Pacquing were likewise charged.

In the rap sheet filed by Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer II Rowena Vidad, they were accused of conspiring with one another in giving unwarranted benefits and advantage to PLC back in October 2007 when they awarded the company the contract of services of the Integrated TVET Management System through the TESDA e-Portal in the amount of P30 million.

However, they awarded it despite several irregularities and instances of fraud, according to Vidad. First, the invitation to apply for eligibility and bid posted by the BAC in newspapers did not indicate the approved budget for the contract, fund source, contract duration, and delivery schedule of the e-TESDA portal project.

Next, the BAC failed to adhere to the requirement of R.A. 9184 requiring at least three to five shortlisted consultants in the selection of prospective bidders and consultants.
At the same time, PLC was technically and financially unqualified to undertake the e-Portal project, and there was no valid source of fund or prior appropriation for the e-Portal project, contrary to the certification of Quimbo.