By Czarina Nicole Ong Ki
National Parks Development Committee Executive Director III Jaime K. Recio pleaded guilty to a lesser offense instead of graft before the Sandiganbayan Seventh Division.
“Wherefore, judgment is hereby rendered finding accused Jaime K. Recio guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the lesser offense of violation of Section 7(a) of R.A. 6713 and sentencing him to pay a fine of P5,000,” the dispositive portion of the decision read.
Recio was initially charged with a violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for giving unwarranted benefits to Variance Protective and Security Agency when he signed disbursement vouchers facilitating the release of payment for security services purportedly rendered from January 1 to September 15, 2004 amounting to P7,842,941.60.
He made the payment without considering the conduct of public bidding and other procurement activities required under R.A. 9184 and its implementing rules and regulations.
Recio was arraigned on April 19, 2017 and he entered a not guilty plea. Trial already ensued before he filed a motion for deferment of promulgation in view of a possible plea bargaining agreement.
Recio manifested his intention to plead guilty to a violation of Section 7(a) of R.A. 6713, or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees. The prosecution was in full support of the plea bargain.
In its ruling, the anti-graft court noted that the services of Variance were indeed engaged without the conduct of public bidding. However, the prosecution was unsuccessful in proving how Recio acted with manifest partiality or gross inexcusable negligence when the contract was awarded to Variance.
The court added that the prosecution failed to establish a link between Recio and Variance, and that its selection was directly attributable to Recio.
But since both parties have agreed to the plea bargain, the court decided to approve it pursuant to Section 2, Rule 116 of the Revised Rules of Court.
The 31-page decision was written by Chairperson Ma. Theresa Dolores Gomez-Estoesta with the concurrence of Associate Justices Zaldy Trespeses and Georgina Hidalgo.