This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.
MANILA, Philippines – The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan has affirmed the graft case against Tabuk, Kalinga Mayor Darwin Estrañero over the alleged anomalous procurement of medical supplies in May 2020.
The Sandiganbayan Sixth Division denied the motion of Estrañero seeking to quash the graft case filed against him by the Office of the Ombudsman.
“The Information dated November 28, 2022 is sufficient and complete. Specifically, it states that Estrañero, in his official capacity, entered into grossly and manifestly disadvantageous contracts with various suppliers for the purchase of medical supplies and devices that were grossly overpriced,” the court said in its decision.
The nine-page resolution was penned by Associate Justice Karl Miranda with concurrences from Associate Justice Sarah Jane Fernandez and Associate Justice Kevin Narce Vivero.
In denying the motion, the Sandiganbayan also said: “In effect, he is seeking the authority of the court to review and possibly reverse the findings of the Office of Ombudsman against him. The relief prayed for by Estrañero, however, is no longer allowed under the Revised Guidelines for Continuous Trial of Criminal Cases.”
Estrañero, however, succeeded in deferring the proceedings for 60 days. The Sandiganbayan noted his pending motion for reconsideration with the Ombudsman filed on August 15, the same day the graft case reached the court.
“To give the Office of the Ombudsman sufficient time to resolve Estrañero’s partial motion for reconsideration and for purposes of orderly proceedings, the court deems it best to defer the arraignment of the accused and suspend its proceedings,” the court said.
The case involves the Tabuk City government’s procurement of alleged overpriced medical supplies – alcohol, nebulizers, oxygen cylinders, thermal scanners, and personal protective equipment (PPE).
Investigators found that the city government procured 500 PPE sets at P2,440 per piece but the price ceiling is only P400.50. They also found that the city bought 200 sets of hazardous material (hazmat) gear at P1,150 per piece when it was supposedly worth P210 each.
In filing his motion, Estrañero noted that the procurement was carried out amid a health crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He also argued that the the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act that took effect on March 23, 2020 superseded the price freeze under joint memorandum circular No. 2020-01 of the Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Health.
Estrañero had also argued that contrary to the allegation that the procurement was disadvantageous to the government, Tabuk residents benefitted from the procured medical supplies. – Rappler.com