4 former DA officials cleared of graft charges

Published February 15, 2021, 11:25 AM

by Czarina Nicole Ong Ki

For lack of evidence, the Sandiganbayan has acquitted four former officials of the Department of Agriculture (DA) of their graft charges involving P2.49 million.


Acquitted were former DA Regional Executive Director XI Roger Chio, Finance Division Chief Alma Bermejo Mahinay, Administrative Officer V Godofredo Arce Ramos, and Regional Agricultural Engineering Division Chief Onofre Mariano Nugal.

The Sandiganbayan’s decision dated Feb. 5, 2021 was written by Associate Justice Michael Frederick L. Musngi and concurred in by Associate Justices Oscar C. Herrera Jr. and Associate Justice Bayani H. Jacinto.

The prosecution alleged that in September 2005, the four DA officials gave unwarranted benefits and advantage to PMKD Enterprises in the purchase of 81 sets of multi-purpose tents for P2,496,582 without pre-procurement or pre-bid conference.

 But the Sandiganbayan said the prosecution failed to prove its charges.

“There is no evidence that supports the allegation that the action of accused caused any undue injury to any party, or gave any private party unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference which attended the procurement process,” it said.

Thus, the court said, the accused merely acted within their functions and simply discharged their official duties.

And since the tents were received by the DA’s district office and were distributed to its farmer-beneficiaries, no undue injury was caused to the government, it also said.

“Wherefore, in light of the foregoing, accused Chio, Mahinay, Ramos, and Nugal are acquitted as the evidence of the prosecution failed to sufficiently establish the essential elements of the crimes charged and for failure of the prosecution to overcome the presumption of innocence in favor of all the accused,” the anti-graft court ruled.