By Czarina Nicole Ong-Ki
The Sandiganbayan Fifth Division has affirmed its decision convicting former Panglao Mayor Benedicto Alcala of Bohol for graft involving the anomalous procurement of a motor vehicle worth P1.46 million back in 2005.
He was found guilty for violating Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act on April 26 alongside bids and awards committee (BAC) member and Municipal Budget Officer Catalino Sumaylo and several others.
Alcala and Sumaylo filed their respective motions for reconsideration. Alcala insisted that the prosecution’s evidence all rested on hearsay. He was found guilty of giving “unwarranted benefit, advantage or preference to Gateway Motors (Cebu) Inc. by causing the procurement of a motor vehicle with specified brand name of Kia Sorento through direct contracting, without just and lawful basis.”
However, Alcala stressed there was no way to prove that he gave unwarranted benefit to Gateway Motors through gross and inexcusable negligence. He added that his right to equal protection of the law has been violated, since the decision “unjustly selected him…to bear the liability of the procurement of Kia Sorrento, to the exclusion of all other public officers.”
Meanwhile, Sumaylo said that the procuring entity in this case was the Office of the Mayor. Even though he prepared the 2007 Annual Procurement Plan of the municipality with the recommendation for direct contracting, he said there was no specific brand mentioned.
As Chairman of the BAC, Sumaylo also said he had no participation in the eventual purchase of the vehicle.
However, the anti-graft court said that Sumaylo made a “sweeping” reassurance to other BAC members that direct contracting was allowed, even though there was no basis for it. He was also aware of the brand name Kia Sorrento before the procurement, so it was his burden to prove that he was not directly involved. In this regard, the court said Sumaylo “failed.”
The resolution likewise stated that the prosecution was successful in proving how Alcala gave unwarranted benefit to Gateway Motors, despite his insistence otherwise.
“Alcala and Sumaylo were well aware of their responsibilities as public officers. They should have lived up to the dictum that a public office is a public trust,” the court ruled.
Despite their positions, the court said they still defied the procurement law and proceeded with the purchase of the vehicle “without the slightest regard to the costs.”
The 13-page resolution was written by Associate Justice Maryann Corpus-Mañalac with the concurrence of Chairperson Rafael Lagos and Associate Justice Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega.