Graft case against former Lapu-Lapu Mayor Arturo Radaza, 16 others junked

By: Norman V. Mendoza October 18,2019 - 10:02 PM

Former Mayor Arturo Radaza together with his wife then Mayor Paz Radaza (left) hold a press briefing a few days before this year’s elections. | CDN Digital file photo

LAPU-LAPU CITY, Cebu, Philippines — Former Lapu-Lapu City mayor Arturo Radaza and 16 others were acquitted of  graft charges involving alleged purchase of overpriced computers in 2005.

The decision of the Sandiganbayan Seventh Division was released today, October 18, 2019. It was signed by Isobel Maria Providencia T. Solis, executive clerk of court III.

The graft case  was filed at the Sandiganbayan in 2014 by businessman Efrain Pelaez Jr., who in 2007  also filed a complaint at the Visayas Ombudsman for the purchase of the alleged overpriced computers in 2005 when Radaza was mayor of the city.

In 2011, the Visayas Ombudsman found Radaza, who later became the congressman  of the sixth district of Cebu, and his co-accused guilty of anomalous purchases of the 470 computers and suspended them for six months.

In 2014, Pelaez had filed a case of graft at the Sandiganbayan against Radaza and 16 others.

Radaza had then branded the filing of the case as politically motivated.

Pelaez and the Radazas had been political rivals since Pelaez ran for mayor against Arturo’s wife, Paz, and lost to her in the 2010 elections.

Arturo maintained that the computers allocated for the city’s high schools were bought at 2005 market prices and were not overpriced.

According to the Sandiganbayan decision, the prosecution failed to prove the actual damage caused to the government with the grant of the contract to Kein Enterprises in 2005, whether from deviation from the specifications from the purchase order or from overpricing.

Read more: Radaza, 19 others charged in Sandigan 

The Sandiganbayan’s ruling also said that the purchase order did not specify Pentium IV processor as the computer specifications, which was a requirement for the purchased computers as claimed by the state prosecutors.

It also cited the prosecution’s failure to present an expert witness, who would explain in detail the effect of having computers running on Celeron processor instead of Pentium 4 as well as an expert on the prevailing market price of the said computers. The project in question also involved 470 computer units for the public schools in the city.

In the complaint, it was alleged that the amount paid to Kein Enterprises, P23,786,500 (or P49,950 per unit) allegedly exceeded the Ombudsman’s computation of P23,100 per unit, or a total of P10.857 million.

Read more: Radaza hits critic, says computers not overpriced

This allegedly exceeded the 10 percent allowable price variance under Section 3.1 of CPA Memorandum No. 97-012, hence, this has caused injury to the government, according to the Ombudsman.

But the Commission on Audit, in its audit observation memorandum, limited its findings to the deficiencies to the computer sets delivered by Kein Enterprises vis-a-vis the specifications under the purchase order.

The COA also did not render a report or did not flag the project as an overpriced one.

Radaza, on a text message on Friday, October 18, added that he  was just happy about the decision but never doubted that the case would not prosper.

“Ang kamatuoran ug hustisya sa kaso nga walay basihan motumaw gayud (Justice and truth will win against malicious prosecution),” said Radaza.

Radaza’s co-accused who were also acquitted were then City Schools Superintendent Serena Uy, Bids and Awards Committee Chairman Teodulo Ybanez, his vice Chairman Fernando Tagaan Jr., BAC members Michael Dignos, Victoria Andoy, and Elena Pacaldo, Rogelio Veloso as head of the Technical Working Group (TWG) and members Cipirano Flores, Sharon Baguio, Buenaventura Igot, Jerico Mercado and Maribeth Sorono, Administrative Aide III Marita Guiao of the Procurement Section, and Inspection Committee members Cleofe Solis, Leandro Dante, Ernesto Imbong, and Rogaciano Tampus./dbs

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TAGS: acquitted, computers, graft, lapu-lapu, overpriced

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