Sandiganbayan convicts ex-Leyte mayor of graft

Published October 26, 2020, 3:32 PM

by Czarina Nicole Ong Ki

The Sandiganbayan Fifth Division has convicted former Santa Fe Mayor Melchor Morados Quemado Sr. of Leyte of his graft charge for renting office space that is owned by his brother back in 2005.

Quemado was sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of six years and one month as minimum to eight years as maximum, with perpetual disqualification from holding public office because of his violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

Quemado rented office space on December 29, 2005 at the Hayward Travelodge, owned by his brother, Anastacio Quemado, for the preparation of a feasibility study on the proposed infrastructure for the Rural Productivity Enhancement Sector (INFRES) project of the municipality.

The office space was rented for P16,000 without public bidding, and Hayward Travelodge had no business permit at the time of the transaction and is more or less 21 kilometers from the municipality of Santa Fe.

During the trial, Quemado said that he was not conversant of procurement laws at the time the municipality rented his brother’s office space. However, he admitted that he knew public bidding was required in all government procurements.

“Said knowledge is sufficient to hold him liable for non-compliance with R.A. 9184 (Government Procurement Act) and its implementing rules and regulations,” the anti-graft court said in its ruling.

Even though Quemado said that Hayward Travelodge had the cheapest rent in Tacloban City, the court noted that there was available space in the municipality building for the supposed conduct of the feasibility study.

“In this case, the court is convinced that Quemado acted with evident bad faith and manifest partiality in the rental of office space at Hayward Travelodge without public bidding,” the decision stated.

The 19-page decision was penned by Associate Justice Karl Miranda with the concurrence of Fifth Division Chairperson Sarah Jane Fernandez and Associate Justice Kevin Narce Vivero.