Sandiganbayan affirms ex-PSALM officials’ conviction

Published September 22, 2020, 2:41 PM

by Czarina Nicole Ong Ki

The Sandiganbayan Special Third Division has affirmed the graft conviction of former Department Managers Rico Valdellon and Lorenzo Jacinto of the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM), together with two others, in relation to the reportedly anomalous contract awarded to a disqualified bidder.

(MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Valdellon and Jacinto, as well as Division Manager Don Thed Juan Ramirez and Corporate Executive Officer Renato Ramirez Vehemente were sentenced last year to suffer the indeterminate penalty of six years and one month as minimum to 10 years imprisonment as maximum.

All of them are also perpetually disqualified from holding public office.

They were found guilty of violating Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, for giving undue advantage to the joint venture of Genetron International Marketing, Atomillion Corporation, and Safeco Environmental Services Inc. by accepting the eligibility document which was belatedly submitted.

Because of this acceptance, the contract for the sale and disposal of waste oil at Sucat Thermal Power Plant was awarded to them at its bid price of P35,008,888.80.

The accused filed motions for reconsideration. Valdellon argued that the award of the subject project to the Joint Venture was due to its eligibility, and there was no undue advantage given to the joint venture because it was qualified in both pre-qualification and post-qualification stages of the bidding.

Meanwhile, Ramirez said that the prosecution failed to establish the required gravity before the said act can be considered criminal. Jacinto, for his part, argued that they demonstrated good faith and objectivity when they awarded the Joint Venture because the BAC deliberated on the issue and solicited the advice of experts.

However, the anti-graft court did not rule in their favor. “While the Joint Venture’s actual capacity may meet or even exceed the requirements of PSALM, the fact is that its permitted treatment capacity under its original ECC was inadequate to meet the requirement of the PSALM,” the resolution read.

Contrary to the argument of good faith, the anti-graft court found that the accused all acted in a conspiracy.

“In this case, the prosecution evidence sufficiently established that the accused-movants, as members of the BAC, voted to accept the subject amended ECC in patent violation of their own bidding rules,” the court said.

“Their collective acts ultimately led to the unjustified award of the subject contract to the Joint Venture because it failed to meet the PSALM requirements based on its original ECC,” it added.

 
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