Rama facing another graft case in Sandiganbayan

By: Delta Dyrecka Letigio - Reporter/CDN Digital | March 21,2020 - 05:35 PM
Cebu City Vice mayor Michael Rama is facing graft and corruption charges at the Sandiganbayan. | CDN Digital file

Cebu City Vice mayor Michael Rama is facing graft and corruption charges at the Sandiganbayan. | CDN Digital file

CEBU CITY, Philippines — Cebu City Vice Mayor Michael Rama will be once again be facing graft and corruption cases at the Sandiganbayan along with the members of Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) during his term as mayor from 2013 to 2016.

This time, the case revolves around the reconstruction of Carbon Market Unit II on March 20, 2013, a project awarded to Geety Realty and Development Corporation (GRDC) with a project cost of P167,340, 190.72.

READ: Rama, 4 others face graft raps over ‘garbage’ services

Seven years later, Rama and six others have been indicted by the Office Ombudsman for they have been found with “probable cause” for graft and corruption.

Aside from Rama and Daluz, other former officials were also indicted including former head of the BAC, Rafael Lagura; former City Administrator, Jose Marie Poblete; former BAC assistant head, Dominic Diño; former City Treasurer Eustaquio Cesa, former City Planning and Development Coordinator, Alipio Baca; and Lawyer Jose Daluz III, who was then a city councilor.

Daluz is currently the chairman of the board of the Metropolitan Water District, and he also served as special assistant to Mayor Edgardo Labella.

The Office of the Ombudsman in the Visayas will be filing the charges against them at the Sandiganbayan for awarding the multimillion project to a contractor that is not qualified to do the project.

The Ombudsman considered the memorandum of the Commission on Audit (COA) released in 2016 over the project.

COA Audit Observation Memo

COA issued its Audit Observation Memorandum dated June 17, 2016 saying that the Pre-Bid Conference was not done on the scheduled date.

COA also said that GRDC is not qualified to bid and be awarded the project because, based on its license, it can only perform projects worth until P100M, which is below the project cost of P167,340,190.72.

It was the same memorandum former mayor Tomas Osmeña used to file the charges of graft and corruption against Rama at the Ombudsman on October 4, 2016.

“The collective act of the public respondents that allowed an unqualified contractor to not only be declared eligible to participate in the bidding, but eventually be awarded the contract, and further allowed it to continue with the project without consequence for its negative slippages and eventual failure to complete the contract on the given completion date, display a clear bias towards the contractor,” ruled the Office of the Ombudsman.

The camp of Osmeña welcomed the development even if the decision was promulgated four years after the case was filed.

“We repeat — those in government must stop any act of graft and corruption: Osmeña is watching,” said Lawyer Amando Virgil Ligutan, the legal counsel of Osmeña.

For his part, Rama said he already answered the allegations to the Ombudsman and last week, he sent an appeal over the indictment.

He went to Manila before the community quarantine began to discuss the case with his lawyers. He did not say if he appeared before the Sandiganbayan.

“We will keep fighting. Do not worry. Our lawyers are working on it. We will make an appeal, even if it reaches the Supreme Court,” said Rama in a phone interview.

Rama and the other defendants may still appeal the case up to the Supreme Court before they will be finally tried by the Sandiganbayan. /dbs

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TAGS: graft and corruption, Rama

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