The Sandiganbayan has acquitted former Zamboanga City Water District (ZCWD) General Manager Leonardo Rey D. Vasquez and other officials and members of graft charges for alleged irregularities in the bidding of the P19 million line rehabilitation project in 2010.
Other individuals cleared were former ZCWD Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) Chairman Lovell C. Abad, BAC Vice-Chairman Teotimo C. Reyes Jr., Arnulfo A. Alfonso and Rodrigo R. Vega, both members of BAC.
They were sued for allegedly violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019) and the Government Procurement Reform Act (RA 9184). The complaint was filed by bidder Bendimil Construction and Development Corporation for alleged delay and failure to conduct post-qualification proceedings.
In the 43-page decision, the anti-graft court ordered the release of the bonds posted by those acquitted and lifted the hold departure order issued against them.
“No civil liability may be adjudged against the accused as the act or omission from which the civil liability might arise did not exist,” stated the Sandiganbayan decision written by Associate Justice Karl B. Miranda.
The court said the actual lowest bidder was also disqualified for its defective surety bond and the three-month mandatory period within which to award the project had already lapsed. Thus, the BAC had to declare a failure of bidding, it said.
“There was no reason to proceed with the post-qualification of Bendimil. The BAC decided to rebid the project and accused Vasquez approved the rebidding,” the court said.
Had the accused proceeded with the post-qualification of Bendimil and awarded the project to it, despite it not having the lowest calculated bid, they could have been charged with giving Bendimil unwarranted benefits, advantage and preference, it said.
“They could also have been charged with causing the government undue injury,” it noted.