MANILA, Philippines – The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan acquitted former Makati mayor Elenita Binay in her P72 million graft case involving the purchase of alleged overpriced city hall furniture in 1999.
“The Demurrer to Evidence filed by the accused Elenita S. Binay is GRANTED. Accordingly, the instant case against the accused Elenita S. Binay is ordered DISMISSED,” said the resolution by the Sandiganbayan 5th Division.
The resolution, dated June 10, was penned by chairperson Associate Justice Rafael Lagos, with concurrences from Associate Justices Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega and Maryann Corpus-Mañalac.
The case for the prosecution fell through when it failed to use as witness former Makati councilor Ernesto Aspillaga who claimed that Binay had ordered him through a handwritten note to favor contractor Office Gallery International.
If it had been proven true, it would have indicated simulated bidding which was a violation of bidding and procurement laws, as well as the graft law provision that prohibits giving unwarranted benefits to a party.
The office fixtures, which cost the city government P72 million, was allegedly overpriced by P21.54 million.
But Aspillaga had lost the handwritten note, and the prosecution could not present corroborative proof, which led the 5th Division to exclude him as witness.
“After a careful examination and evaluation of the Prosecution's evidence, and taking into account the Prosecution's own admission that it had no direct evidence available for the proper prosecution of the charge against accused Binay, the Court finds the evidence against accused Binay insufficient to support a finding of guilt beyond reasonable doubt,” said the 5th Division.
The court added: “The Prosecution was not able to present the necessary evidence to prove that accused Binay acted with manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross, inexcusable negligence in awarding the subject contract under PO 9989, through a simulated/rigged public bidding, in favor of Office Gallery International, Inc.”