Sandiganbayan acquits Partylist rep of graft

Rappler.com

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Sandiganbayan junked a graft charge filed in January 2004 against Partylist lawmaker Catalina Bagasina

MANILA, Philippines – The Sandiganbayan on Monday, February 6, junked a graft charge filed in January 2004 against lawmaker Catalina Bagasina.

In dismissing the case, the Sandiganbayan’s 5th Division cited lack of evidence to support allegations that Bagasina, who represents the partylist group Association of Laborers and Employees, acted with bad faith concerning a medical supply contract when she was municipal mayor of Sasmuan, Pampanga in 2001.

The decision on the case was penned by Associate Justice Roland B. Jurado who said, in a 13-page decision, that the prosecution failed to present any proof to sustain culpable acts relative to the graft case.

While the prosecution submitted the testimony of five witnesses, the court ruled that there was no evidence that

   * it was Bagasina who was solely responsible for awarding the contract to Kylemed Inc.,
   * that the supplier lacked accreditation from DOH,
   * that the accused was aware that the supplier lacked said accreditation; and
   * that the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the DOH was violated.

The prosecution did not even present the MOA with the DOH, the court said. This considered, it added, the court “has no basis in determining whether a violation of its provision was indeed committed, or if there was such violation, whether it was the accused who committed the same.”

The court further declared that the filing of the case against Bagasina appeared to be tainted with political undertones.

The court questioned the fact that only Bagasina was charged even though the nature of the offense she was charged with required the involvement of several other individuals. “The other public officers who approved the transactions and the private party who was alleged to have been given the advantage or benefit must have been indicted in the Information to establish the crime, but only the accused was charged,” the court pointed out.

Politics?

Prosecutors claimed Bagasina favored Kylemed when the supply contract was awarded to the latter without any public bidding. They said the deal was worth P1 million funded under the Sentrong Sigla project of the DOH.

Among the witnesses presented against the former mayor was her former Vice Mayor, Marlene Banting, who admitted in court that she ran as mayor in 2004 and lost against the defendant.

The private complainant in the case, Wilfrido Banting, admitted under cross-examination that he was the brother of the former vice mayor. – Rappler.com

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