Anti-graft court convicts Ace, other DOT officials over wall-calendar project; Durano unfazed

By: Morexette Marie B. Erram - CDN Digital | December 02,2021 - 09:26 AM

CEBU CITY, Philippines—Former Tourism Secretary and Cebu gubernatorial candidate Joseph Felix ‘Ace’ Durano has been convicted for violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act over a wall-calendar project.

The 7th Division of the Sandiganbayan found Durano, along with several Tourism officials, guilty for violating Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019).

Also named as respondents were Oscar Policarpio Palabyab, Grace Reyes Yoro, Eduardo Alvarez Jarque Jr., Evelyn Respicio Cajigal, and Adriana Mesa Flor, all of whom were officials of the Department of Tourism (DOT). 

The decision was promulgated on November 26, and signed by Associate Justice Georgina Hidalgo. Copies of the ruling were also furnished to members of the media. 

‘Minor speed bump’

Durano, for his part, said he is ready to face the charges. 

While admitting that he was ‘puzzled’, the gubernatorial candidate said he will be facing the charges ‘head on’. 

In a statement sent to media, Durano said these are just ‘politically motivated’ and questioned the timing of the ruling. 

“This is just a minor speed bump on the road because our campaign is gaining momentum. This will not discourage us from pursuing a dream of a better Cebu,” he said.  

Based on the ruling of the Sandiganbayan, the Ombudsman found probable cause to indict Durano and then members of the DOT’s Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) for allegedly skipping bidding processes for a wall-calendar project in 2008 that costs around P2.7 million. 

In particular, the state’s anti-graft court said they found the respondents guilty for giving ‘undue advantage to PDP Digital Inc.’ for the back-to-back wall-calendar, which is part of the department’s promotional campaign. 

Durano revealed that there were three cases lodged against him, all of which pertains to his tenure as chief of the country’s Tourism department from 2004 to 2010. 

Two of them, filed in 2016, were already dismissed. 

“Ang duha sa ilang gi-file na dismiss na. Karon 2021, human ko niingon nga mudagan pagkagobernador, nitumaw napud ni nga kaso. Murag klaro naman siguro unsay pasabot ani. Dili sad ni issue sa overpricing or ghost project. Ang issue ra gyud ang proceso gigamit sa DOT sa pag mugna sa project,” explained Durano. 

In the meantime, Durano said his camp will be making an appeal on the case. He also said he is confident that the charges against him will be dropped. 

“I said before that fighting the incumbent is like scaling Mt. Apo, and this is just one proof, naa kalit obstacle mugawas. Sa 20 yrs nga nag serbisyo ko sa gobyerno ug sa katawhan karun lang gyud intawun nga naa tay kaso nga ni lansar ta pag ka gobernador,” he added. 

Durano will be facing incumbent Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia in the May 2022 elections. He is running under the Partido Pilipino sa Pagbabago (PPP) and the Durano-led BAKUD. 

/bmjo

READ MORE: Ace eyes replicating DOT programs for Cebu’s economic recovery

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TAGS: Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Joseph Felix ‘Ace’ Durano, Republic Act No. 3019, Tourism Secretary, wall-calendar project

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