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MANILA, Philippines – The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan has acquitted six former officials of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) of multiple graft charges stemming from the alleged anomalous procurement of P279 million worth of training and testing tools in 2007.
“After a thorough examination of the evidence offered by both parties and following a careful evaluation of their respective arguments and submissions in support of their causes, this Court rules that the accused are entitled to an acquittal from all six charges leveled against them,” the Sandiganbayan Sixth Division said in a decision promulgated on September 11.
Associate Justice Kevin Narce Vivero penned the decision with concurrences from Associate Justices Sarah Jane Fernandez and Karl Miranda.
The six acquitted are former TESDA Bids and Awards Committee chair Teodoro Sanico, BAC members members Ernesto Beltran and Buen Mondejar, and BAC Secretariat members Juanito Belda, Francis Fang, and Maximiano Montemayor.
The court held that it was the TESDA board, and not the six members of the TESDA BAC and BAC secretariat, who entered into the contract agreements with VG Roxas Company Incorporation in relation to the alleged anomalous procurement.
The acquitted former officials were co-defendants of former TESDA director general Augusto Syjuco Jr., TESDA deputy director general Rogelio Peyuan, and TESDA director Antonio del Rosario, and private defendant Vicente Roxas who all died before the court issued a ruling.
“Simply put, the participation of the BAC and its Secretariat end after the bidding proper. As clearly shown by the evidence, it was the TESDA Board and accused Syjuco who entered into the questioned Contract Agreement with VG Roxas Co. Inc.,” the court said.
Prosecutors had accused the defendants of entering into contracts that are “grossly and manifestly disadvantageous to the government” alleging that the tools and equipment purchased were defective, overpriced by 4% to 42,732%, defective, of low quality, had missing parts, and did not have manuals, making them unusable.
The procurements, made in three separate transactions, were under the TESDA’s Ladderized Education Program.
On the overpricing allegation, the Sandiganbayan said that the sampling of similar tools and equipment purchased by the audit team headed by state auditor Crescencia Escurel from major retail stores and other suppliers was not properly done.
It added that succeeding witnesses presented by the prosecution did not sufficiently corroborate the testimony of Escurel that the training tools and equipment were defective, inoperable, or unnecessary.
The court said that even if the allegations had been fully substantiated, they were not attributable to the TESDA BAC and the BAC Secretariat. – Rappler.com